State of the Union

Obama's Sick SOTU "Carpet Bombing" Burn on Ted Cruz everything that's wrong with politics


The world will look to us to help solve [foreign policy] problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn't pass muster on the world stage.

In his final State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama went out of his way to call out a comment by GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz. In an early December speech in Iowa, Cruz said that if he wins

"we will have a president who will make clear we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out."

Later that month, CNN's Wolf Blitzer pressed Cruz to clarify his remark during a debate:

"To be clear, Sen. Cruz, would you carpet-bomb Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians? Yes or no?"

This was Cruz's reply:

"You would carpet bomb where ISIS is—not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed—and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn't to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists."

Which immediately made it 100 percent clear that Cruz doesn't actually understand the definition of carpet bombing, which is: 

a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land….Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many unguided bombs.

What Cruz was looking for was likely the more technical term "bomb the shit out of ISIS."

He wanted to sound tough. He wanted to indicate that he would undertake an ever-so-slightly more aggressive version of the same foreign policy that Democrats and Republicans alike have pursued in the region for many years. And the thinking and attitudes that go into that precise calibration of that kind of use of force is a legitimate debate that should influence voters.


And sure, it's possible this was a Kinsely gaffe, revealing deeper near-genocidal tendencies, but it's more likely that Cruz simply never had any intention to to treat Mosul in 2016 like Tokyo in 1945. This is just not a thing that is actually going to happen.

Obviously, it's not great that a serious contender for the presidency doesn't understand the meaning of the term carpet bomb. (It's also not great that the vaguely inattentive American public apparently likes the idea of carpet bombing swathes of the Middle East—remember Agrabah!—or at least doesn't hate it, since Cruz's poll numbers are up.)

But you know what else is not great? In a historic speech, to make a big deal about the importance of "serious discussion about strategies we can all support" and "rational, constructive debates" in "fixing our politics" and then turn around and highlight one of the dumber statements this election cycle—which was immediately repudiated by members of Cruz's party (though Rick Santorum did chime in approvingly)—that the speaker probably didn't even mean. 

Cruz may not have done his part to elevate the national discussion with the carpet bombing soundbite, but Obama's cheap shot isn't helping either.


NEXT: Obama Promised Optimism at State of the Union—Americans Don't Need Politicians For That

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  1. So mealy-mouthed appeals to “humanitarian intervention” and hypocrisy since Obama does bomb civilians and his plan to defeat ISIS isn’t that far from “bomb the shit of them”. Wonderful.

    1. That’s different. He meant well.

  2. And how about those sailors captured by Iran? Really good at cooling tensions and neutralizing Iran.

  3. “Which immediately made it 100 percent clear that Cruz doesn’t actually understand the definition of carpet bombing, which is:
    a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land….Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many unguided bombs.”

    And the Wiki example which shows a totally-leveled area is not the result of the bombs themselves, but the result of a fire-storm which requires bombs and particular weather conditions.
    The point is simply the use of the phrase ‘carpet bomb’ is to be ignored by any who use it; no one who knows what it means presumes it is possible.
    So Cruz blew it out his ass (‘toxic, are you listening?), and Blitzer called him on it, and Cruz walked it back.
    You can dump on Cruz, as is proper for most all of the D and R candidates, but dump on him where appropriate, not ’cause he’s as confused about that term as wiki (and you) are.

  4. Talking about carpet bombing civilians may seem harsh, but Barack Obama has killed more children than Adam Lanza, like for reals.

    I’m just sayin’.

    1. Yes, but those children were all bad.

      1. By my count from that site, Barack Obama has killed more than 150 children.

  5. Cruz has fuckin’ nuthin’ on the nifty helix of Obamachinations: twizzling crowds whilst sizzling collaterals.

    1. Very good. (polite applause)

  6. That sound you hear is about half of Trump’s supporters wondering who this Cruz guy is and why he’s so frightening to the Democrats that President H&C called him out in his annual blather session.

    1. Hitler & Churchill?

  7. Can we use deep-pile carpets? That way we can shag them AND bomb them at the same time!

    1. Well said!

  8. Completely wrong – this article discredits itself. Obama is saying don’t vote for carpet bombers and being president isn’t as easy as carpet bombing everyone. That is an excellent point and should be said. In fact it’s one of the few important things he said. Does Obama kill civilians? Sure. But probably a lot less than Cruz or Trump would if given access to the drones.

    1. Except we can’t say for sure what Cruz or Trump’s numbers would look like since we can’t predict the future, but we CAN say for sure what Obama’s are.

      There is not contest, he is a fucking hypocrite.

      *plus you can be damn sure the media would suddenly find their balls again and be covering as many of the civilian deaths as they could under Cruz or Trump.

      1. One (1) vote for carpet bombing, thanks.

        1. That’s not at all what was said. Good try though.

          Pointing out the current president’s lousy record of civilian deaths is not the same as being in favor of more civilian deaths.

        2. How do you type so well with Obama’s dick in your mouth?

    2. I’m assuming sarcasm here.

      Greenwald has pointed out how truly awful it is that Obama has managed to put a pretty, constitutional-scholar face on drone-killing civilians on other countries.

      “Well, Cruz would be worse!!!1!” — This was the Hope and Change you wanted?

  9. I remember getting out of the military many, many years ago and having to adjust how I expressed myself to drop out all the military terms that were part of my vocabulary.

    What I find bizarre is how a lot of those terms have crept into common speach but mostly without any understanding about the real meanings of those words. It is now “cool” to be able to spout out military terms without understanding how immoral it sounds with the full, correct meaning applied.

    Cutting some other human being in half with a belt-fed machinegun is only a moral act if and when that person is also trying to kill you at the exact same time. It isn’t even a moral act two seconds after your opponent drops his weapon and surrenders. Applying military terms about war and warfare to political situations is obscene.

    1. Water wet, sky blue, politicians bloviate.

  10. Wow, the writer actually referenced a dictionary and make it clear to readers that Cruz is using the term incorrectly? But your problem is the term right? If he’s using it incorrectly, are you just complaining that he doesn’t understand terminology?

    1. No…

      He’s saying that Cruz was being hyperbolic to make a point, and that was bad, so why give him free airtime for it?

  11. You know what else is not great? Throwing a hissy fit over the fact that one politician made fun of another politician for saying something stupid. I thought “Reason” was above the “even-handedness syndrome.” On foreign policy, President Obama is, some of the time, less of an idiot than Ted Cruz. Give the man credit.

    1. Not really. He’s a feckless, clueless ass.

    2. You have a strange definition of “hissy fit”.

  12. “The world will look to us to help solve [foreign policy] problems, and our answer needs to be” figure it out yourselves, assholes

  13. President Cruz should just say “Look, middle easterners, if you have ISIS controlling in your city, your city will be destroyed. Do something about them, or we will.”

  14. It is possible to use large scale, area, unguided gravity bombing (a.k.a., “carpet bombing”) on fielded forces, and not target civilians. We did this against Iraq’s Republican Guard bases prior to the invasion. I do not know if this is possible against ISIS, because I do not know how many of their troops operate in camps, or on former military bases.

    That said, Ted Cruz at no time stated or endorsed, or called “to carpet bomb civilians”. This is an abject lie by President Obama. And it is derivative, and it is putting words into Ted Cruz’s mouth for anyone suggest otherwise.

    Next, it does not violate international law to bomb civilians, as long as the bombing falls under proportionality and military necessity as defined international law.

    Ted Cruz is not an Air Force General. We know that. Neither is Obama. We know that too. We also know Obama’s restrictive ROE have limited our military success against ISIS.

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