Does America have a bomb play?

The Islamic State is an unexpected challenge for the Obama White House. Still, presidents are not supposed to admit that they don't have a strategy for dealing with a huge national security problem.

Charles Dharapak/AP
President Barack Obama smiles as he takes questions about the economy, Iraq, and Ukraine, during a press briefing in the White House on Thursday.

Things were getting desperate.

Notre Dame was down 6 and the clock was ticking.

Gerry Faust, the former high school football coach, was prowling the sidelines, increasingly panicked.

“Do we have a bomb play?,” he shouted.

I’m not sure if that story is true or not, but my brother and I would always laugh about it as an example of Faust’s incompetence.

He was a nice guy, but he wasn’t much of a football coach in the big leagues.

I thought about that story yesterday during Barack Obama’s press conference yesterday.

This is how Dave Boyer of the Washington Times reported it:

President Obama acknowledged Thursday he doesn’t have a plan for defeating Islamist militants in Syria and backed away from imminent military action, while he also downplayed reports of a new Russian invasion in Ukraine.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Mr. Obama said of his plans for defeating the Islamic State in Syria. “We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans. As our strategy develops, we will consult with Congress.”

Isn’t it his job to have a strategy to deal with every major crisis?

I thought presidents were in the strategy business, kind of like football coaches are in the business of designing football plays.

I understand that IS has become a huge and surprising challenge for this White House.

Had the president not screwed up the situation in Iraq by withdrawing our troops too quickly (in the pursuit of a nice campaign theme, I might add), there probably would have been no IS.

Now, you can make the case that this is all Bush’s fault and had Bush just allowed Saddam Hussein to stick around, we wouldn’t be having any of these problems.

And there is probably an element of truth to that assertion.

But at least Bush had a strategy (or stratergy, if you will).

Obama is still in search of one.

I don’t think it is good for a president to admit that he doesn’t have a strategy for dealing with a huge national security problem.

It reminds me of Gerry Faust and his tenure as Notre Dame’s football coach.

John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at

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