Time for an expectations and reality reset

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, our own counter-terrorist actions or lack thereof, and media chatter prompt this commentary.

The question so often frustratingly asked by commentators to guests on TV is: "What do we need to do?" If you listen closely, you will hear a great deal of frustration and dissatisfaction and a plethora of isolated tactical ideas in response. Implicit in all these discussions is a deep-seated hunger for fully committed leadership, a coherent and comprehensive strategy, and decisive action. No one denies that this is an extremely tough problem.

The truth of the matter is our current administration has no appetite for this very tough problem and is pursuing a minimalist lead-from-behind strategy. And Congress is reticent to fully assert itself with an election on the horizon. Do not expect much to change. In the short term, our eviscerated but committed military and intelligence communities, local law enforcement, first responders and vigilance by ordinary citizens are our major hope as ISIS continues to thrive and threaten. ISIS is not a JV team and the soft-pedaling has got to stop, but don’t hold your breath. We are at war and have been for a long time against radical Islam. Set your expectations for a no-end-in-sight conflict and reset your reality for the truth that this is a fanatical enemy that cannot be reconciled.

Mr. Obama’s personal agenda of changing America, to align it with his vision, is neither consistent with the reality of today’s global dangers nor of America’s leadership responsibilities. From outward appearances it seems that most of the media and many Americans assume that Mr. Obama’s fundamental values are consistent with former commanders-in-chief. Nothing could be further from the truth. His words, actions, and lack of actions over the last six-plus years have been polar opposites. As far as the major media goes, it is both incredible and sad that so few, with the power and resources to be candid with the American people, living in their bubble of self-righteousness, have not been honest with us in regard to our leadership. Their ideologies and loyalties obviously trump reality and security.

Ladies and gentlemen, please do not expect any substantive change of strategy or focus from this administration to address this ongoing global confrontation. Small steps, taken with an eye on "optics," rather than significant results, will be the only things you can expect this administration to execute. You will hear a lot of promising rhetoric served with large dollops of certitude but don’t expect much more. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will offer pomp and bluster, but little "meat."

Those of you old enough will remember that 1984 Wendy’s TV ad featuring actress Clara Peller, who, upon receiving a burger with a massive bun with a small patty from a fictional competitor, angrily exclaims, "Where’s the beef?" Well, that is what we can expect here in regards to this administration’s confrontation with ISIS, a massive rhetorical bun and a tiny actionable patty. The only thing that could possibly change this administration’s approach would be another major attack similar to what happened on Nov. 13 in Paris, or, heaven forbid, 9/11.

Our enemies are taking advantage of our weak leadership. All you have to do is watch the actions of Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and ISIS. Expect more of the same from other malicious scoundrels, rogue nations and evil factions in the intermediate term.

We need a president who loves America and listens to its people, is committed to its responsibilities, will rendezvous with reality, formulate and execute a winning strategy, and lead decisively from the front with the objective to win the war on terror. Please cast your vote in the upcoming primary with a sharp eye on national security, if only for the sake of your children and grandchildren.

John Cebrowski is a former three-term Republican state representative from Bedford.