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Sadly, Joe Biden Was Right

April 20, 2009

Parents and grandparents of small children who recognize the name "Veggie Tales," will be familiar with one of that animated series' most amusing offerings, "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." Now we find out that there are real pirates loose on the high seas who are capturing American citizens and holding them for ransom - and until Sunday it was beginning to look like we had a president who wouldn't do anything.

Remember Vice President (then Senator) Joe Biden's warning just before last November's election? "Mark my words," Biden said to a group of donors at a fund-raiser last fall. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant, 47-year-old senator President of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else. Watch. We're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from which it might originate. And he's gonna need help, because it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

Who knew that it would be a band of Somali misfits in an out-of-gas motorboat? Even in Joe Biden's fertile imagination, he could not have visualized this as one of the scenarios that would paralyze the prez.

It all began when four thugs from the African country of Somalia, carrying AK-47 assault rifles, seized the Maersk Alabama, an unarmed U.S.-flagged cargo ship, and held hostage the American crew of twenty. The crew managed to retake control of their vessel, but their captain, Richard Phillips, was taken away in a lifeboat. At one point, the crew members managed to capture one of the pirates and held him for twelve hours, eventually releasing him as part of a hostage exchange. "We returned him but they didn't return the captain," said befuddled Alabama Second Mate Ken Quinn.

Pirates who don't keep their word? What is this world coming to? Next thing you know, we'll have politicians who don't keep their word!

Eventually, it became apparent that Captain Phillips had volunteered to join his captors in their lifeboat in exchange for the safety of his crew. "The captain is a hero," said one crew member as the 17,000-ton Alabama pulled into port in Mombasa, Kenya on Saturday. "He saved our lives by giving himself up."

While all this was unfolding, it appeared that Barack Obama was too busy talking about his favorite topic - tinkering with the U.S. economy - to be bothered with issuing a comment on the fact that the greatest Navy in the history of the world was being stymied by four guys in a rowboat. After emerging from a meeting with economic advisors, Obama was asked about the standoff. His brusque reply to the press: "We're talking about mortgages here, guys."

After two days of this, and with U.S. warships now in position, Captain Phillips, no doubt believing that the Navy only needed a clear shot at his captors, bravely tried to escape. As he jumped into the ocean, he probably hoped they would blow the lifeboat out of the water. But no, the nearby Navy vessels simply observed as the Somalis jumped into the water and recaptured their hostage.

As the weekend wore on, we discovered that another ship had been seized, this time a French vessel with a crew of sixteen. Are we surprised?

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both refer to these thugs as "Somali Pirates." In the spirit of the Obama administration's insistence on giving our war on terror such innocuous titles as "Overseas Contingency Operations," Rush Limbaugh declared that he would heretofore refer to the "pirates" as "Merchant Marine Organizers." The truth is that they are really nothing but Muslim terrorists. Incompetent ones, but Muslim terrorists nonetheless.

In the final analysis, Barack Obama saved himself from being known as the president who won't do anything. He authorized the use of force and the Navy freed Captain Phillips. I hate to admit it, but Joe Biden was right. One has to wonder when the next test will come.

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Copyright ©2009 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.