Dick Cheney got a bigger rise out of the administration than the underwear bomber.
That’s a legitimate conclusion one can draw when you read this:
David’s post below on the White House’s decision to accuse of all people, Dick Cheney, of being insufficiently critical of al Qaeda beggars belief. As Jim Geraghty quipped, “He’s beyond condemning [bomber Abdulmutallab]; he wants to waterboard him until his lungs qualify for a federal wetlands status.” We all agree al Qaeda’s attempts to blow up airplanes are bad — the question is what is the current occupant of the White House going to do about it?
But what I can’t wrap my head around is that it took the President four days to acknowledge what he termed a “catastrophic” national security failure, but Cheney criticizes the administration’s handling of the war on terror and they have a rapid response on the White House blog in a matter of hours? Priorities!
Then again, it took six days to respond to the riots in the streets of Tehran during their election, so four days seems about right for a barely averted domestic catastrophe.
Also, is the White House aware of how small they look when they are so obviously spooked by Cheney’s every utterance? Remember when the President rescheduled a press conference earlier this year to deliberately conflict with a pre-planned Cheney speech?
We could really use a steady hand on the tiller while dealing with national security matters, but the White House is still in campaign mode, worried about what a private citizen — who left office remarkably unpopular! — thinks of them.
The counter argument is that the president is being wise and prudent in taking his time to respond in a meaningful way to this terrorist attack.
In an unusually direct and aggressive blog post, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer today criticizes former Vice President Dick Cheney for his constant critique of the administration’s national security policies.
Pfeiffer wrote, “it is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers.”
Pfeiffer said that in his statement to Politico today Cheney makes a “clearly untrue” claim that Obama doesn’t realize we’re at war.
“I don’t think anyone realizes this very hard reality more than President Obama,” Pfeiffer wrote, detailing the times Obama and his top advisers have used the term.
“The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and - unlike the last Administration - we are not at war with a tactic (”terrorism”), we [are] at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered,” he wrote.
Judging by the initial reaction of the administration - our clueless DHS Secretary telling us the system worked and that the bomber was a lone extremist - I would say that someone has to focus on criticizing the administration and it may as well be Cheney.
And why this liberal obsession with “chest beating?” Obama himself said he will not rest until all the perps are brought to justice. Isn’t that “chest beating?” If it isn’t, then they can hardly accuse their favorite whipping boy George Bush of chest beating because that’s about as rough Bush got in any of his rhetoric the last 6 years of his presidency.
These guys are still in campaign mode. They sure got out the hatchet quick enough to respond to Cheney. But our president can’t come off the links long enough to say something meaningful about a terrorist attack on Christmas Day with millions of people visiting friends and relatives and soon to be passengers using a suddenly vulnerable airport security system? No chest beating required. No exaggeration needed. No brave words and political solipsisms necessary. Just the facts, Barack, just the facts.
Prudence is one thing. Measured responses are welcome. But the president is also supposed to be reassuring in times like this and he failed that test miserably. Instead of disavowing his DHS secretary’s comical opinion of “the system,” he spun her words after the fact:
Mr. Obama appeared to be trying to contain the damage on Tuesday, offering “systemic failure” as a substitute diagnosis for “system worked.” He framed Ms. Napolitano’s statement by saying she was right that “once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it’s clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions.”
Maybe. But Napolitano was not referring to any after action report. It was plain that she was referring to a failed bombing attempt proving the “system” worked when a reasonably aware 3 year old knew that it didn’t. Without those passengers taking action - never mind the crew, or homeland security systems, or aviation security - there would have been a lot of dead Americans on Christmas day.
He probably should have fired her on the spot. Instead, he became the second part of the joke.
And what’s up with Pfeiffer? Talk about breathing fire and doing some chest beating! His contention that the administration does indeed believe we are “at war” flies in the face of almost every statement, every action taken by this president since he took office. There was a conscious decision to downplay the “war” aspects of this conflict and substitute cooperation and law enforcement as the primary means to combat Islamic extremism - a term that continues to stick in the throat of Pfeiffer and his boss. We aren’t at war with abortion bombers or fat white guys out in the bush playing at being militiamen. We are at war with an ideology as insidious and odious as Nazism, Communism, or fascism. Islamism is not a religion, but a political ideology. And until we hear that acknowledgment pass the lips of Barack Obama, he and his flunkies can make all the claims they want about being at war but it won’t alter the fact that they appear to be unserious unless they brush up on their enemy identification.
It is typical that Pfeiffer would criticize form over substance by talking about “chest beating” rather than exactly who it is we are fighting in this “war” that they can’t seem to make up their mind to call a war. It wasn’t Cheney who came up with the ludicrous notion of calling a terrorist attack a “man caused disaster.” Nor did the former Veep rename the conflict an “overseas contingency operation.” Obsessing about form is something this administration is very good at. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda plots and our response is to force passengers to sit quietly in their seats the last hour of every flight.
Doing a heckuva job Janet. Your boss too.
No, Obama is not incompetent. Just muddle-headed. He can’t seem to figure out where political calculation ends and his job protecting Americans begins. His being the anti-Bush in his approach to governing doesn’t work every time. Nor does bending over backward to satisfy his rabid base on national security matters always make smart policy. The left may adore the fact that Obama is downplaying this latest terrorist attack. After all, what’s the worst that could have happened? A couple of hundred Americans incinerated in mid air is all. Nothing to get upset about. plenty more where they came from. Even if we had to endure a 9/11 attack every day, it wouldn’t make a sizable dent in our population. Better to get national health care passed than worry about such pinpricks.
If Obama had his druthers, that attitude would probably inform our anti-terror policy. But the American people have a little less nuanced approach to the “war” on terror; they don’t want to die. This really mucks things up because at the very least, the president has to be seen to be “doing something about the problem.” He can’t discuss the top secret stuff that is going on behind the scenes so we get screwy new regulations and searches at airports. I’m sure in his mind, he is doing all that is required to stop these attacks. But whether he feels this way or not, he is projecting a rather sanguine attitude toward the entire problem. Not “pretending” as Cheney charged. Just not as engaged as his predecessor.
Does this attitude filter down to the bureaucracy and was it partially responsible for the communications snafu that allowed the bomber to almost succeed? Andy McCarthy has made that argument - unconvincingly I might add. These guys at CIA and the FBI are pros and it is doubtful anything Obama says or does affects them in the performance of their jobs. But might a culture of risk aversion - not rocking the boat - 9 years after 9/11 still dominate in some quarters of the intelligence community? That to me is a more likely scenario and explanation for what went wrong. And no DCIA or other presidential appointee has ever been able to make a dent in changing it.
All we can do is hope whatever Obama and his team are doing works, regardless of their attitude or mindset about terrorism, and regardless whether they really think we’re at war or not.