In a few hours' time, the President of the United States will apparently do to his oath of office what the Islamic State does to its captives. As I said to Hugh Hewitt the other day, even a constitution of meticulously constructed checks and balances requires a certain seemliness of its political class. This chief executive is brazen in his lawlessness, and ever more so. And he has calculated that those who object lack the stomach to do anything about it. We shall see.
However, I would like also to note another example of presidential brazenness this week - Barack Obama's reaction to the latest beheading of a US citizen by the head hackers of the Islamic State. Peter Kassig's death video was not as the others:
David Haines and Alan Henning – both from Britain – and Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff each made statements before their deaths in earlier videos. Each held Barack Obama or David Cameron to blame for their deaths, because of American and British military action against Isil in Iraq and Syria.
There was no such statement from Peter Kassig. Instead, "Jihadi John" appears with Mr Kassig's severed head, and sneers, "He doesn't have much to say."
Indeed. But I wonder what he had to say in the last moments of his life. Evidently not a statement blaming Obama for his predicament. Perhaps he even pushed back against his executioner in a more forceful way. In Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, in an essay on another westerner beheaded by the jihadists, I salute someone who declined to go gentle into that good night:
Consider Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq on April 14th. In the moment before his death, he yanked off his hood and cried defiantly, "I will show you how an Italian dies!" He ruined the movie for his killers. As a snuff video and recruitment tool, it was all but useless, so much so that the Arabic TV stations declined to show it.
Evidently, Mr Kassig also ruined the movie for his killers. We will never know how. The classical idea of "the good death" has little resonance in today's western world, except perhaps among its soldiery - and Mr Kassig was not just another deluded humanitarian tourist in the heart of darkness but a battle-hardened army ranger. Did he show his captors "how an American dies"?
If so, President Obama had no compunction about dishonoring his death. At the Rose Garden ceremony for Bowe Bergdahl's parents, the President decided to pass off a deserter as an American hero. In his response to the beheading of Peter Kassig, Obama chose to turn a man who may have died heroically into just another Muslim victim:
Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity... ISIL's actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.
"Abdul-Rahman"? Why, yes. Mr Kassig supposedly converted to Islam while imprisoned by the Islamic State. That's to say, his submission to Islam was at the point of a sword. In America, at home, at liberty, he was not a Muslim. He was a Muslim only in captivity.
And to be pedantic about it, Peter Kassig was not, in law, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. He would not have been recognized by any government agency anywhere in the Republic of Paperwork under that name - not by the DMV, not by the Social Security Administration, not by the TSA, not by the Obamacare website. So why is the head of the US government recognizing Mr Kassig by a name none of his minions would? Obama's court eunuchs at The New York Times explained it this way:
The president used the Muslim name that Mr. Kassig adopted after his capture, making the point that the Islamic State had killed a fellow Muslim.
Why is that "the point" the President feels he has to make? In the same video in which "Jihadi John" appears with Mr Kassig's head, the Islamic State are seen decapitating 13 fellow Muslims from the Syrian army. If you're a Muslim, you get the group beheading with the crowd-scene extras. If you're an American or Briton, you get the star role, the solo act. The Islamic State knew which group Peter Kassig belonged to even if the President didn't.
Although my book is somewhat amazingly propping up the nether regions of the Top Ten humor bestsellers, quite a bit of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn deals with the all too deadly serious subject of Obama and others' prostration before Islam, and the iniquities of one-way multiculturalism - which in the end will destroy us. The wretched statement by this disgraceful president was, to go out as we came in, an especially brazen example. Peter Kassig died as he did not because he was "a fellow Muslim" but because he was an American. He deserved to be honored as one.