Using his left hand to punctuate every word of what he called his "bottom line" on the Islamic State, President Obama said at a news conference in Estonia Wednesday, "Our objective is clear—that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so it's no longer a threat, not just to Iraq but also to the region and …" Then he paused.
His left hand fell to his side. His tone flattened. He continued: "… to the United States." In that brief moment of reflection may lie the key to whether Obama considers the brutal regime a direct threat to the country he leads.
This is not an insignificant parsing. While members of the president's Cabinet, along with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, consider the Islamic State a danger to the United States, the man most responsible for protecting U.S. interests has suggested that they are overreacting.
ISIS is a junior varsity squad, Obama shrugged last fall.
Social media exaggerates the horrors, he sniffed last week.