The Thinker: Rich Galen


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It Would Have Been Enough for Us

Rich Galen

Monday January 12, 2015


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  • More than 3.7 million people marched in France Sunday to show solidarity against terrorism in the wake of the horrific events in Paris late last week.

  • According to
    World leaders joined French President Francois Hollande, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

    The day also brought together an unlikely duo at the rally: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Who wasn't there?

  • President Barack Obama.

  • Neither was Vice President Joe Biden, nor Secretary of State John "Je Suis Un Parisian" Kerry.

  • Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris, but for a previously scheduled meeting and did not, as far as I can tell, take part in the event.

  • Ok, so you say the security issues that surround having the President attend something like the Paris March are too overwhelming to be able to accomplish on short notice?

  • Got it.

  • How about Joe Biden? You can tell when a motorcade is tooling through downtown Washington, DC from his residence on Massachusetts Avenue that it's Biden's and not Obama's.

  • How? Biden's is far smaller. Just enough SUVs, limos, and Metro police motorcycles to clear a path and carry the necessary officials. Maybe 10-15 vehicles in all depending on the threat level.

  • The President's motorcade generally runs with counterassault teams, electronic counter-measures vehicle, press vans, a bunch of motorcycles leading the way, an ambulance and who knows what-all. Including the motorcycles the President's motorcade can run to 35 or more vehicles.

  • As the Atlantic Magazine put it: "The Presidential 'package' can also include dozens of motorcycles, police cars, and other vehicles."

  • My point is: Even in downtown Washington, DC there is a difference in the protection level necessary for the President and for the Vice President.

  • For obvious reasons, Departments and agencies are loathe to describe in any great detail the security measures that are employed at any given time.

  • While the President and Vice President enjoy what is known as "intersection control" that is, crossing traffic is held and traffic along the route is cleared out before they go racing down the block.

  • Cabinet officers and Congressional leaders who have security details have one- or two-vehicle motorcades but they don't generally travel with sirens blaring and lights flashing, and so travel within the flow of normal city traffic.

  • For several thousands of years Jews around the world have celebrated the holiday of Passover by holding a ritual meal: the Seder. Part of that Seder is singing a jaunty tune known as "Deyanu" pronounced die EH (as in 'ate') nu).

  • It translates to "It would have been enough for us." The song begins with:
    If He had brought us out of Egypt. (Deyanu)
    If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians. (Deyanu)
    If He had executed justice upon their gods. (Deyanu)

  • And goes on for 15 verses of things each of which would have been enough for us.

  • So it is with the President's decision to sit out the Paris March:
    If Obama had sent Vice President Joe Biden (Deyanu)
    If Obama had sent Secretary of State John Kerry (Deyanu)
    If Obama had sent Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Deyanu)

  • Even if he had only sent the Secretary of Agriculture, or Commerce, or Interior (Deyanu, Deyanu, Deyanu)

  • But Obama sent no one. No one.

  • I know he went personally to the French embassy. And I know he wrote a long, personal note in the condolence book. But that was most certainly not Deyanu.

  • Whether a high-ranking American official attended the Paris March is not going to put a strain on our relationships with France and will not enhance the U.S. position in Syria or Iran.

  • I am not a fan of President Obama. I didn't vote for him and I still think that was the correct decision. I think he has made mistakes in tactics and strategy in both domestic and foreign policy.

  • But, for the first time in six years, I believe he has embarrassed our country.

  • This wasn't sharing nuclear secrets, or committing 10,000 troops. This was a simple act of civility to show unity with the leaders of other nations against a most uncivilized act.

  • Even the United Arab Emirates sent its Foreign Minister. Jordan sent its King.

  • I wish the White House had seen that sending someone - anyone - to participate might not have satisfied the French, or the British or to Germans.

  • But, for Americans, Deyanu

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A photo of a really long motorcade, the list of nations and who represented them, and the Wikipedia entry for Deyanu. With all 15 verses.

    Also, the Mullfoto is of a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church I saw in New Jersey on Sunday.

    -- END --

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