President Barack Obama came off well in his nationwide address on the San Bernardino shootings. He was lively and expressive and he even achieved a moment of pathos when he urged Americans not to “turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam.” But otherwise he was the incredible shrinking president. The problem was not so much his use of clichés – the victims are “part of our American family … founded upon a belief in human dignity … let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional,” etc. – rote phrases that are somehow meant to be reassuring and comforting. Rather, it was the denials, half-truths and outright misstatements that leave no doubt that the man is clinging to a failed policy and that whatever changes he makes in the wake of the San Bernardino killings will only make matters worse.