Reaction to the president’s prime-time speech on ramping up efforts to take on the terror group ISIS ranged, not surprisingly, from very supportive — loyal huzzahs from Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Richard J. Durbin — to openly dismissive: Sen. Ted Cruz called the president “unserious.”
“Tonight’s speech was disappointing, but not surprising. The President’s approach to ISIS has been – and remains – fundamentally unserious,” the Texas Republican said in a statement.
An even more withering assessment of President Barack Obama’s address came from Oklahoma Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe.
“Tonight, the President’s strategy re-plowed the ground of what he has already done and requested what Congressional leaders have already offered. At ISIL headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, you can hear a sigh of relief.” Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., together as always, were a bit more complimentary.
“While we strongly disagree with President Obama that America is safer today than five years ago, his speech tonight got some key things right.”
Democrats mostly lined up behind the president.
“I commend the President for clearly presenting to the American people his strategy for leading a multinational force to confront this barbaric terrorist organization known as ISIL,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.
“Tonight, the American people heard the President present a concrete and forceful strategy to degrade and destroy ISIS,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
But there was the occasional note of dissent and concern among the president’s Democratic colleagues.
“I disagree with the President’s assertion that he has all necessary legal authority to wage an offensive war against ISIL without Congressional approval,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Others cautioned against the president taking unilateral action.
“Congress must weigh in when it comes to confronting ISIL through military action. The voices of the American people must be heard during a full and robust debate in Congress on the use of military force,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif, said in a statement.
Some reactions were oddly muted.
“I have been concerned about the threat that ISIL poses to America’s national security for some time now, and look forward to discussing with my colleagues in the House the best plan of action to address this serious terrorist threat,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
“Tonight, the President laid out an aggressive and appropriate course of action to address the threat posed by ISIL,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said.
Some Republicans who have been very critical of the president seemed to be willing to turn give Obama the benefit of a doubt — at least in the fight against ISIS.
“The president tonight recanted his earlier dismissals of ISIL’s capabilities and rightly acknowledged the grave and growing threat posed by the spreading global epidemic of radicalized Islam. He has finally begun to make the case the nation has needed him to make for quite some time … ” said Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.
“If President Obama is finally ready to drop the wobbly rhetoric and lead a coalition, I am prepared to offer him the support he needs to put down the extremists who threaten us and have committed horrendous crimes against humanity,” Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said.
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