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12/31/2009
IS OBAMA BEING PRUDENT OR IS HE INCOMPETENT?

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.

By: Rick Moran at 11:44 am
35 Responses to “IS OBAMA BEING PRUDENT OR IS HE INCOMPETENT?”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:06 pm 

    The difference in approach between conservatives and liberals lies in the fact that you guys need the terrorists. You have a symbiosis with them. They’re a political winner for you. So you lose no opportunity to do the terrorist’s work for them. They want to spread fear and appear to be 10 feet tall, and you profit when they spread fear and appear 10 feet tall.

    We don’t. We don’t think it’s helpful to do Al Qaeda’s work for them.

    American conservatism requires an enemy. You were weaned on anti-communism. It was a tragedy for conservatism when the wall came down — although it came down in large part because of conservative spine-stiffening of the west. Suddenly you had no viable hate-object. You switched as best you could to liberals, but while that worked with your hardcore base the rest of the country drifted ever further into the liberal camp: pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-woman, increasingly secular, open-minded on progressive taxation and government regulation.

    Then 9/11 and we once again had an enemy. A genuine enemy, very evil men doing very evil things. But as bad as they were they were never an existential threat. Compared to 10,000 Soviet nukes they were nuts with popguns.

    So since then conservatives have worked night and day to make the threat bigger, scarier, more existential. Which of course is precisely what Osama bib Laden wants.

    We take a different tack. We will fight them, but we will try to fight them effectively. Which means we start by depriving them of their mother’s milk: fear.

    I didn’t need reassurance. My wife and kids didn’t need reassurance. I don’t know anyone outside of right-wing blogs who needed reassurance.

    But you guys, you needed reassurance. Needed lots and lost of reassurance. From the president you despise.

    Right. I totally believe that.

  2. 2
    Buckeye Said:
    1:14 pm 

    Michael Reynolds: and strangely enough, somehow you “progressives” deprive the Islamist terrorists of their main source of sustenance - fear - and you “fight them effectively and yet, under “progressive” administrations Islamist terror proliferates and is continually emboldended. Ugh, Michael, along with many of your compatriots in the “progressive” academic commuity, you might want to give the terrorists a call and tell them to stop behaving in a manner that it is inconsistent with your self-serving theories. You can forgive them the mass murder, but if they jeopardize your funding sources, then shudder for the poor jihadis!

  3. 3
    still liberal Said:
    1:25 pm 

    It would seem that the money spent on a non-9/11 related “War on Saddam” could have been better spent on improving intelligent gathering and sharing methodologies.

    And just how does one win a “war on terrorism?” Al-Quaida is known to be in at least 50 countries. Do we invade them all to militarily root out the handful of extremists in each country, per Iraq and Afghanistan? Strip search everyone at the airport to look for weapons?

    Profiling terrorists, gathering intelligence information, and putting everyone associated with terrorists on a no-fly list seems important. Incentivizing mainstream Muslims to denounce the misuse of Islam as a part of deterring the radicalization of Muslim malcontents will be money better spent than tens of thousands of soldiers stumbling around the AfPack border

    Wars are fought between nations. Dealing with terrorists in primarily a legal battle, with some limited military involvement. Stop worrying about whether the situation is defined as a war and remember Dick Cheney is primarily responsible for cocking this up in the first place.

    And yes, Ms. Napolitano should be fired immediately; heads must roll over this screwup.

  4. 4
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:41 pm 

    Buckeye:

    I’m not a member of the academy: high school drop-out, been working full-time since age 16, now a writer. (They don’t let drop-outs into “the academy.”) Army brat. Pro-military. Supported Reagan on his naming of the USSR as an evil empire, backed IRBM’s in Europe, supported strike on Qaddafi.

    I supported Gulf War 1, Afghanistan and yes, Iraq. Screamed my head off for more men to Iraq even before McCain figured it out. Long, long before you right-wing Rumsfeld-enamored loudmouths did.

    Support and have always supported Predator strikes inside Pakistan — even while McCain was denouncing them in the campaign. Support covert ops wherever necessary including targeted assassinations of Al Qaeda. Supported Obama when he rushed desperately-needed reinforcements to Afghanistan after Mr. Bush’s neglect. Support Obama’s increase in forces there now, (though I have a different spin on it.)

    But those are mere facts, so don’t let them get in the way of your cliche assumptions.

    We need to do what works, not what gives right-wingers a boner.

  5. 5
    SShiell Said:
    2:37 pm 

    “We need to do what works, not what gives right-wingers a boner.”

    Tell that to Obama! I could care less what Bush did right or wrong - it don’t matter for squat! When your Fearless Leader gets a clue then I will stand up and applaud him.

    Not until then! And I dare not hold my breath waiting for it to happen!

  6. 6
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:43 pm 

    SShiel:

    Wat do you think he needs to do?

  7. 7
    Jim Said:
    2:51 pm 

    Hi Rick

    Another good post. It has been said in some quarters that the Democrats are only interested in holding and maintaining domestic power. That they are really only concerned in domestic issues and don’t have their eye on foreign policy. They have little interest, in this view, in what goes on overseas.

    I don’t hold to that view absolutely but much this administration and its Democrat allies do gives credence to this view.

    You call it “campaign mode” I think part of it may be the “Chicago Way” where the only really important thing is having patronage and using it. Effective foreign policy (to this crowd) may not buy votes. What buys votes (in this view) is passing out domestic goodies. I’m not certain of it but it sure explains why they treat the domestic opposition the way they do and give the appearance they couldn’t be bothered with foreign policy.

  8. 8
    Buckeye Said:
    3:17 pm 

    Michael Reynolds: let’s see, you throw out a string of assumptions about “you guys.” You tell us - as if conservatives, classical liberals, libertarians, etc. were all one monolothic entity - what we “need,” what’s good for us politically, how we all think, what gives us boners, blah, blah. But when the same generalization game is pointed back at you, then you bring oout your war medals and security credentials, and set yourself above and apart from the progressive v. conservative divide.

    Ugh, Michael, I did not fail to notice that you avoided my my main point altogether, which was that the progressive approach/THEORY to fighting terror (which you suported) about not feeding into the fears and using other allegedly more sophisticated methods has been completely ineffectual IN REALITY. Please explain to me how/why Islamist terror movements proliferated and were emboldened during the Clinton and Obama administrations, respectively?

    Besides, I never said that you were a member of the academy. Rather I suggested that were a “compatriot” of the progressive academic community, mainly because your arguments sounded just like what I have heard from dozens of progressive academics.

    But I did get a kick out of when you lectured me about avoiding “cliched assumptions” and then in the very next sentence wrote, “We need to do what works, not what gives right-wingers a boner.” Once again, one set of rules for Obama supporters and another set for everyone else.

  9. 9
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:23 pm 

    Buckeye:

    9/11 happened under Mr. Bush. Not Mr. Clinton and not Mr. Obama.

    North Korea also went nuclear under Mr. Bush.

    And Iran’s main strategic opponent was neutered by Mr. Bush which hugely strengthened Iran.

    And under Mr. Bush Iran moved without let-up to develop nuclear weapons.

    Under Mr. Bush we did nothing to moderate our use of oil which fed hundreds of billions of dollars to our enemies.

    And under Mr. Bush Osama bin Laden escaped and continues to look for ways to attack us.

    So how exactly are the Republicans experts on this? Or anything?

  10. 10
    Allen Said:
    3:45 pm 

    Someone is giving this administration some very bad poltical advice. Right now you’ve got tens of millions of people trudging through long security delays at airports all over the country, and the President is now realizing that he might need to be out in front of this?

    Even leaving out the security issues, you’ve got millions of people in a bad mood, in various states of undress going through security, and you’re telling them it’s a failed system? Shoot the other foot.

    That, and everyone and their brother seemed to know this was a bad guy, but he still got through. This administration might think they can blame it on the previous one, but the problem is the voters might not buy that.

  11. 11
    Buckeye Said:
    4:12 pm 

    Michael Reynolds:

    AQ was in ascendancy throughout the 1990s and into the first part of this decade, culminating in 9/11. That long-range trend coincided with Clinton-era policy, but yes Bush must take some responsibility for it happening on his watch. Please tell me that your more intellectually honest than to say it was Boooshes Fault!

    If Iran’s main strategic opponent was neutered by Mr. Bush, good riddance! Now let’s see how we can neuter Iran.

    By your comments, are you suggesting that allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons would be a major mistake. I agree. What should Obama do about it?

    Finally, the only sensible reason why we would moderate our use of oil would be if we have a better techological alternative - better combo of price/energy output. Do you know of any?

    Under Mr. Obama, Bin Laden continues to look for ways to attack us. Why hasn’t the Chosen One caught Bin Laden yet?

    As for experts, Michael, apparently you’re the expert.

  12. 12
    Buckofama Said:
    4:46 pm 

    Michael Reynolds

    Your president has shown weakness and whined more than any other president in the age of electricity.

    Your president has made a world apology tour while slandering the greatness of America and what we as Americans and what we as world leaders stand for.

    Iran is nuking up under YOUR president not Bush.

    Israel is being pushed away with no other allies to help them in a sea of Jewish hating sharks under your president while Iran refines their nukes with all intentions of a world without Jews.

    North Korea is testing missiles and breaking treaties under your president, not Bush.

    Your president has passed the biggest slush fund in the history of the world ($787 billion stimulus bill)under the guise of creating jobs when the only jobs created or stimulated were public sector jobs with a ratio of about 30-1 for private sector losing jobs to public sector creating jobs and no sight for the private sector to recover under such rules, restraint, and regulation.

    Cap and Trade which taxes the air we breath in the name of the phony global warming is prepping for it’s final stage and promises to be another of the many massive failures under YOUR president and all of this while in the great recession.

    The 22nd amendment is under attack with upcoming bills in the House under your president.

    Amnesty is next on the agenda to give 20-30 million illegals instant citizenship. Bush did have bills for this but YOUR president is more likely to pass this bill and have 10-15 million more democrat voters when passed. How American is that? Under YOUR president.

    Your president is about to sign in a bill to add a unconstitutional mandatory tax just to live in breath in the USA under the guise of health care reform which also will tax the American people for 4 years before going on the government socialist health care teet.

    Your president has the lowest poll ratings of any president in recorded history at this point in their term. It’s not because of how he says it but what he says and what he is doing and how out of touch he is with the AMERICAN people in a CAPITALIST society. YOUR president.

    Your president in the middle of a great recession has the biggest deficit of any person to ever walk this earth and he did that in the first 11 months of his term. Bush had 9/11 and a 7 year war and passed TARP which your president voted for and his deficit was still smaller in those 8 years than what your president has produced in 11 months during the great recession with nothing to show for it other than a democratic electoral slush fund and it’s not over because 2010 promises to double or triple that already massive debt he has forced on the American people and all this while the great recession is still fully charged and going strong and lets not forget the Bush tax cuts are being removed so now the small business owner will have to fire a few more employees in hopes to survive the coming inflation and massive debt with more government regulation and higher taxes and mandatory taxes (like health care insurance, carbon credits and the VAT tax being discussed) All this under your wonderful and esteemed president.

    Michael: You have your own blog and you come up with quick responses that lack substance but in your subconsciousness you know what a disaster this dictator and his regime really are and how the Constitution and the American people are being trampled on and there is nothing that the last 3 Republicans have done to even come close to equal what the last 3 democrats have done as far as debt and reckless spending, lack of national security, transition from Capitalism to Socialism/Fascism, and personal responsibility.

  13. 13
    michael reynolds Said:
    7:52 pm 

    Buckeye:

    1) I’ve never blamed Mr. Bush for 9/11. You’re trying to blame Mr. Clinton. Which is ridiculous.

    2) Iran was far stronger at the end of Mr. Bush’s term than at the start. That’s simply a fact. Mr. Bush’s actions actively strengthened Iran by removing Saddam and by convincing Iran that only nukes would save them from possible regime change. Iran has been weakened during this last year because of the greens, and because, thank God, we had a president smart enough to ignore right-wing loudmouths demanding that we discredit the protesters by embracing them.

    3) No, we cannot neuter Iran. No, we cannot stop them from developing nukes. Sanctions won’t work and an attack would be counter-productive to put it mildly. The best we can do is establish a policy of Unilateral Assured Destruction in the event of any Iranian use — direct or indirect.

    If you have a better idea I’d love to hear it. And details please, including reasonable sequelae, not just posturing. (And I’d love to hear why we didn’t do it in the last 8 years.)

    4) Nonsense. We can quite easily cut our fossil fuel use. We could do it tomorrow by raising fleet mileage requirements and/or by taxing gas at a higher rate. When gas prices rise, use goes down, it’s not rocket science. It doesn’t require a breakthrough, it requires people to stop driving Navigators and Suburbans.

    4) Mr. Obama hasn’t caught OBL yet because OBL had eight long years to hide. Mr. Bush lost him at Tora Bora on advice of his idiot SecDef, and once we let him escape it was harder to find him. Your guy had 8 years. My guy’s had 1. In 7 years Mr. Obama will have failed as much as Mr. Bush. Check back in then.

    Fortunately Mr. Obama has renewed the effort and assigned more resources. Among those resources are the first round of reinforcements sent to Pakistan, and the second wave now en route. And the Predator missions inside Pakistan that Mr. McCain attacked as “reckless” during the campaign.

    The GOP record on counter-terrorism is one of mediocrity at best. The Democratic record is just beginning. But you have zero reason to attack Mr. Obama on this issue. And for Rick to be quoting approvingly the most incompetent, meddlesome, dishonest and stubbornly stupid Vice President in modern history, is appalling and reveals an utter lack of seriousness.

  14. 14
    Buckeye Said:
    9:43 pm 

    Michael Reynolds

    “You’re trying to blame Mr. Clinton [for 9/11]. Which is ridiculous.” False. I “blamed” Mr. Clinton for pursuing an anti-terrorism strategy (similar to the one you support) that coincided with the ascendancy of AQ. I agree that the verdict is still out on the Obama administration. Thing is, some of us are very worried about current trends and would rather not wait until a dirty bomb goes off in NYC before deciding that the Obama administration is on the wrong track.

    “Iran was far stronger at the end of Mr. Bush’s term than at the start.” And yet the Iranian regime could possibly be on the verge of collapse. Mr. Bush has not been given enough credit for his policies contributing to the destablization of the Iranian regime. I wrote elsewhere about 6 months ago: “First, the presence of 120,000+ American troops in Iraq forced the Iranian regime to respond to the potential external military threats and internal democratization threats by ramping up spending on military arms and personel, security forces, Iraqi interventions, and the nuclear program. Despite the high petroleum prices, the Iranian regime has managed to burn through $238 billion in oil revenues since 2005. Much of the money probably went to pay for subsidies on gas, milk, and other basic necessities that keep the poor and middle class happy, including the Basiji now fighting on behalf of Ahmadinejad; but a lot of the money was also spent to keep up in the arms race against Bush. Second, the otherwise inane increases in ethanol subsidies authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 might have had an important negative impact on the Iranian economy, which is one of the world’s leading importers of grain. Third, in spring 2005, the Bush administration declared a ’shock and awe’ campaign against Iran’s financial system. The U.S. Treasury Department alerted the world banking community not to deal with Iran, which has a history of sponsoring terror and engaging in state sanctioned illegal financial activities.”

    Do you really believe that Obama’s “unclenched hand” engagement with the Iranian regime has accomplished anything and/or contributed to the destablization of Iran?

    As for what I would do, given the latititude: Cut off some of the energy imports into Iran by any means possible; send in spooks and paid mercenaries into Iran to kill regime elements, disrupt the regime’s command and control infrastructure, and otherwise wreak serious havoc and yet maintain total deniability; as a last resort, and only if absolutely necessary, bomb their nuclear facilities and any related infrastructure.

    Btw, applying a policy of Unilateral Assured Destruction to the millennialistic Iranian regime would be an entirely unacceptable risk. I can’t believe that you would propose such a thing. I thought you were a hardened foreign policy realist. That’s just insanity.

    Raising fleet mileage requirements only works in the short term. They force the market to supply lots of fuel efficient cars, which in turn lowers demand for gasoline and eventually the prices, and people also drive longer distances in their fuel efficient cars, live farther away from work, etc. If/when gas gets cheap enough, they go back to buying Navigators and Suburbans. But I’m guessing that you would like to “progressively” regulate Navigators out of existence? I’m not against taxing gas at a higher rate per se (better option than many other taxes), but I’d like to see the Democrats try that one on top of all the other taxes they are adding/increasing.

    OBL had his entire life to create networks and hiding places before GWB was president, right? Obama is the president now, though. Excuses are cheap.

    Finally, the GOP record on counter-terrorism between 2002 and 2008 was quite good. In addition to protecting the homeland, they killed or captured a lot of jihadis. And, no, I’m not one of those who believes that Islamism has an endless supply of 20-35 year psychopaths from which to recruit and the historical record gives little support to the contention that the war on terror was good for recruitment.

    Michael, I can tell that you’re a smart and reasonable guy. But when someone quacks like a “progressive” and waddles like a progressive, well you the rest. Maybe I’m wrong, but you remind me of the types who first go to JournoList to get the talking points, and then go onto right-leaning sites posing as a indpendent, non-partisan “moderate” who is just trying to save conservatism from its excesses.

  15. 15
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:12 pm 

    Buckeye:

    Your ignorance of Iran is almost absolute.

    1) The Iranians need us as enemies. They require an external enemy.

    2) We eliminated their mortal enemy, Iraq.

    3) They clearly have no great concern about US troops in Iraq since they pursue their nuclear ambitions throughout.

    4) The clenched fist of Mr. Bush coincided with Iranian nuclear advancement.

    5) The green revolution coincided with Mr. Obama’s open hand.

    You have no case to make.

    Raising fleet mileage requirements only works in the short term. They force the market to supply lots of fuel efficient cars, which in turn lowers demand for gasoline and eventually the prices, and people also drive longer distances in their fuel efficient cars, live farther away from work, etc. If/when gas gets cheap enough, they go back to buying Navigators and Suburbans.

    Which is why a gas tax is such a great and obvious idea: the price is kept high.

    . . .they killed or captured a lot of jihadis.

    We’re stil doing that. Predators have struck a number of high value targets in Pakistan recently. You know, the Predators the GOP candidate wanted to call off. So by your logic Mr. Obama is doing as good a job as Mr. Bush. I’ll accept that.

    . . .trying to save conservatism from its excesses.

    Empty name-calling. I have a long online record as a Democrat hawk. I laid it out for you in some detail.

    Let me tell you something: when I was yelling on my previous blogs for more men and more force in Iraq, it was dumb-ass Righties telling me I was a fool and a weakling and a coward.

    So frankly I don’t really have much interest in chest-thumping Right wingers who know nothing of the history involved, nothing of the countries involved, or the issues involved, but reduce everything to some imbecilic assumption that conservatives are always right on defense and foreign policy.

    Let me repeat: in 8 years you people failed. You were catastrophic failures. You have zero credibility on foreign policy.

  16. 16
    CZ Said:
    9:31 am 

    michael reynolds Said:
    12:06 pm
    American conservatism requires an enemy.

    CZ: While that may be true American liberalism requires a multitude of enemies. Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Wall Street and Fat-Cat Bankers are just a few. Talk about scare tactics.

    Besides being a hack writer Mr. Sideways Munchkin never fails to humor me with his blind devotion to the proven failures of socialism.

    Rick, please don’t ever ban that troll. While your essays are always of interest to me, Mr. Sideways Munchkin provides the money shot.

  17. 17
    Travis Monitor Said:
    10:39 am 

    MR: “The difference in approach between conservatives and liberals lies in the fact that you guys need the terrorists. ”

    Liar.

    The difference in approach between conservatives and liberals lies in the fact that conservatives see terrorists as the enemy, and the liberals see conservatives as the enemy.

    It is telling that this administration stoops to catfights with critics and gives harsher words towards a former Vice President of the US than towards leaders of rogue nations.

  18. 18
    Joe Said:
    10:42 am 

    The rightwing has figured out if they repeat their talking points enough the lies will take hold.Thomas Ricks who wrote the book “Fiasco” on the invasion of Iraq said”The invasion of Iraq was the biggest foreign policy blunder in American history.” Bush had OBL surrounded in Tora Bora and “outsourced” the job of capturing him to Afghan tribesman, who let him slip thru the mountains. Read the book “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward.Military leaders were pleading to Bush and Cheney that a major insurgency was brewing in Iraq. Cheney ignored them as “a few deadenders.” How in the hell would all this be considered strong on foreign policy? It was like Bozo the Clown running our Defense Department. Bush crowing “bring em on” is not a strategy. I’m all for Predator drones taking out jihadists and keeping some troops in Afghanistan, but the argument that chicken hawk conservatives are brilliant tacticians on fighting radical islam is some kind of a sick joke. Cheney should climb back under whatever slimy rock he crawled out of. He’s been wrong on everything.

  19. 19
    SB Smith Said:
    12:14 pm 

    Incompetent and Inept

  20. 20
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:28 pm 

    Travis:

    The purpose of terrorism is to cause terror.

    So tell me, which political party is feverishly magnifying the terror for its own political ends?

    There is a symbiosis between Al Qaeda and people like you. They want fear, and you want fear.

  21. 21
    obamathered Said:
    3:58 pm 

    Cheney is despised simply because he reveals Obama as the tiny, ineffectual man he actually is. We’ve had some small people in the White House but this one can walk through the keyholes. I can’t believe everyone is shocked that Obama is such a fuck up.

  22. 22
    Travis Monitor Said:
    5:21 pm 

    “Travis: The purpose of terrorism is to cause terror.”

    I do not fear terrorists, but civilization must defeat the thugs and murderers who engage in it.

    “So tell me, which political party is feverishly magnifying the terror for its own political ends?”

    The party of Jimmy Carter and the party which wants to release Gitmo terrorists to places like Yemen (some to kill again), that’s who. They ‘feverishly’ work on trying to ‘understand’ these thugs, worry about ‘over-reacting’, insist there is no Jihad, claim the USA is to blame, cluelessly and incompetently giving thuggish terrorism a greater platform and more power.

    “There is a symbiosis between Al Qaeda and people like you. They want fear, and you want fear.”

    You are an idiot and a liar. I want AQ destroyed, ground into dust and left as a footnote in history so we can move on to other better concerns. I want my kids growing up in a safer world. If Dems can figure out how to win the GWOT better than Obama’s incompetent freshman year in office, they’ll have my kudos on it.

    Your character assassinations are wildly off-target and are about as assinine as claiming that Churchill ‘needed’ Hitler because Churchill recognized the threat Hitler posed. Lay off that dumb/defamatory ad hominem and move on.

  23. 23
    michael reynolds Said:
    6:23 pm 

    . . . wants to release Gitmo terrorists to places like Yemen (some to kill again), that’s who.

    I realize you’re not well-informed, but you do understand that it was Mr. Bush who released the Yemenis, right? And established the policy? Because his own administration admitted most were innocent men?

    And what evidence do you have that Obama wants to release people from Guantanamo? Last I heard they were being moved to Illinois.

    Travis: they want fear, and you want to give them fear. They are not the Nazis, they are not an existential threat. They’re not the Soviets.

    You NEED them to be 10 feet tall because you PROFIT politically. That’s why you freak out when a guy burns his balls off on a Delta flight. You and the bad guys have congruent goals: terrify the American people by making Al Qaeda seem bigger than they are. Their success is your political gain.

    This has nothing to do with killing them. We don’t need to panic to kill them. Again: it was Obama who insisted on sending Predators into Pakistan over the objections of your candidate. And it is Obama who reinforced Afghanistan and sent the Afghan surge.

    Jesus, when it was the Japanese and the Germans “the only thing we had to fear is fear itself.” Now it’s a handful of religious nuts with panty bombs and it’s fear, fear and more fear.

    Churchill? Yeah, right. You’re far more French than Churchillian.

  24. 24
    sota Said:
    9:25 pm 

    Again: it was Obama who insisted on sending Predators into Pakistan over the objections of your candidate. And it is Obama who reinforced Afghanistan and sent the Afghan surge.

    Yes, yes, Obama is a hawk and a military genius. We get it, already.

    Jesus, when it was the Japanese and the Germans “the only thing we had to fear is fear itself.” Now it’s a handful of religious nuts with panty bombs and it’s fear, fear and more fear.

    If conservatives need terrorists to be 10 feet tall, liberals desperately need to downplay the threat and have them become a non-issue, because as soon as they are an issue, the liberal’s misguided philosophy runs naked through the streets for everyone to point and laugh at.

    The terrorists need someone to fear them? That’s probably true (although I suspect they don’t spend much time in deep thought about that)…but they also need people to be lulled into thinking they’re a bunch of backwoods hicks who can only singe their undies a bit. They need you to keep diminishing the enemy. They need people to let their guard down. They need people to keep underestimating them. They need people to keep their heads in the sand.

    Hopefully the “system” keeps working as well as it did this for the next “bozo” who tries to kill Americans.

    Keep it up.

  25. 25
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:47 pm 

    Sota:

    So, you “get it already” that in the real world you’re wrong on the facts.

    Then you insist that terrorists don’t really think much about causing terror. Which is really just . . . just . . . kind of amazing.

    Then you insist that they wish to lull us. Which they do by . . . attempting to blow up an airliner. Because what’s more calming than that?

    And you wrap it up by attacking the liberals who . . . were not in power while the conservative government missed 9/11, lost Osama Bin Laden, let North Korea go nuclear and actually managed to strengthen Iran.

    One wonders what the foreign policy successes were that you now see us missing.
    Could you name some?

    You display the modern conservative mind: historically ignorant, illogical, and full of chocolate pudding.

  26. 26
    sota Said:
    6:54 am 

    You display the modern conservative mind: historically ignorant, illogical, and full of chocolate pudding.

    Oh yeah? Well, I’m rubber and you’re glue…whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

    Your misreading of my comment is staggering.

  27. 27
    Buckeye Said:
    11:12 am 

    Michael Reynolds, you are exhibit 131,768 of left wingers who are prone to psychological projection.

    You began this thread by stating that ALL right wingers need an enemy, need reassurance, like to spread fear, blah, blah. You are able to deduce that because you are an expert on everything, but especially on how other people think and feel. You’re even an expert on what gives right wingers a boner. But when someone points the generalizations back at you, then you get apoplectic.

    You complain about name calling, but if anyone expresses a different viewpoint than Michael Reynolds, they are completely ignorant.

    You give the GWB administration ZERO credit for its foreign policy successes, even though you keep trumpeting BO’s predator strike policy in AFG/PAK, even though it’s a continuation of GWB policy, like many of BO’s policies. The best part is when you write, “So frankly I don’t really have much interest in chest-thumping Right wingers who know nothing of the history involved, nothing of the countries involved, or the issues involved, but reduce everything to some imbecilic assumption that conservatives are always right on defense and foreign policy.” Do you realize, Michael, that you were talking about YOURSELF in that comment? Come on, take a good long look in the mirror. If you’re capable of being even 10 percent honest with yourself, I promise you’ll feel better.

    I’m done chatting with you. Normally, I enjoy debating with ideological opponents, but you are so unpleasant and pompous that you take all the fun out of it.

  28. 28
    Is Obama Prudent or Incompetent? | NewsReal Blog Pinged With:
    3:21 pm 

    [...] Read more at Rick Moran’s Right Wing Nut House. VN:F [1.7.9_1023]please wait…Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast) [...]

  29. 29
    John Burke Said:
    4:08 pm 

    Reynolds’ core point is really, incredibly lame: as he states it, AQ and all the little AQs aren’t anything to “fear” because unlike the USSR with it’s 10,000 nukes, Islamic terrorists do not pose an “existential” threat to the US.

    Of course, this is a preposterous standard for making national security policies. Arguably, the brief period of peak Soviet military power was the ONLY time in US history when our very existence might have been at risk (and even then, once a balance of political and military power was reached after 1962, the “existential threat” appeared to many to be increasingly hypothetical, enabling many to make the argument that Americans suffered from an inordinate fear of Communism).

    In any case, throughout much of my adult life — the Cold War notwithstanding — I felt no uneasiness about travelling anywhere in the world. I worked for many years in the World Trade Center and naturally thought nothing of it. By and large, except for a few hot spots abroad where local conflicts were under way and for ordinary crime at home, Americans could feel safe and secure.

    No more — and we’re certainly not the only ones. Various Islamic extremists have murdered hundreds of other Muslims in just the past month. Meanwhile, an AQ affiliate came perilously close to blowing 288 innocent Americans to pieces. A short while ago, a home-grown terrorist murdered 13 people at Fort Hood. Just before that, the FBI broke up a plot centered around an Afghan living in New York that has been described as the most serious terror operation disrupted inside the US since 2001. Overall, there have been 29 Islamic terrorist plots targering the US since 911 — and worse, hundreds of successful attacks and foiled plots across the world, dozens of which targeted Americans or US interests (not counting attacks on US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan).

    It seems almost ridiculous to have to work to persuade anyone that this is an extremely serious, ongoing threat. In fact, Americans’ lives are far more in direct jeopardy than they were during the period of the “existential” threat from Soviet nukes.

    What exactly to do about this is open to reasonable debate. But when you begin by attempting to downplay or wish away the seriousness of today’s threat or to trash others for fearmongering, whatever else you have to say is not persuasive.

    Reynolds and all those of his mindset should be taking the failed Christmas attack as a challenge to their assumptions, rather than using it as another opportunity to do battle with domestic political rivals. Had Abdulmutallab succeeded in his mission, let’s face it, there would be hell to pay for Obama and the Democrats. Plans to close Gitmo would screech to a halt. KSM would be redirected back to a Military Commission. The no-fly list would grow exponentially whatever the ACLU did. Our courts would reflexively pull back from their trend toward expanding detainee due process. And CIA would get a big budget increase.

    Learn from this lesson.

  30. 30
    Dymphna Said:
    9:43 pm 

    They don’t call it “the bloody borders of Islam” for nothing. Wherever they dwell in any numbers, they’re killing their fellow man, including other Muslims. Islam is a political/religious vortex of death. Many have admitted openly that death is more important than life.

    Since 2001, there have been over 14,000 attacks by Muslims world-wide. No one knows the exact numbers of men, women and children who have been slaughtered but it continues to rise. Maybe they are our Darwinian population control agents?

    To John Burke, I would say that the US will be less safe under this President than any who have come before him. With the ill-considered move of the Gitmo prisoners to Thomson, IL, we will have Lone Ranger jihadists coming out of the woodwork. They don’t have to be imported, either. In fact, I live a few miles from one of their Jamaat ul Fuqra compounds and it’s well-stocked with arms.

    There are about 30 of these American citizen ex-felon jihadist compounds in the US, perhaps more. Given the restraints on domestic intel collection, civilians can actually gather more information than the pros. Thus, there have been flyovers of these camps which have provided evidence of their firepower and training grounds. The women, btw, live in abject poverty on welfare (a third of which is sent to Sheikh Jilani in Pakistan. Jilani is implicated in Daniel Pearl’s death). Local authorities are afraid of these camps though the various state police aren’t as intimidated.

    The circus trial in NYC will be a magnet for homicidal maniac jihadists who love death and want to share it. Eric Holder has made a huge tactical error here if he wanted to see Obama serve a second term. That trial will still be going on in 2011 and people are going to be fed up with it and with those who made the decision to turn a military matter into a civil one.

    This year, I expect the tempo to pick up on domestic terror and the number of “isolated incidents” to increase. Every time Obama utters that term, I can only picture an ostrich with his head…in the sand.

    Last time around we had a cowboy for our president. This time we have Hamlet, only his dramaturgy bears no relation to Shakespeare. This is more like “The Bald Soprano” of post WW II.

    Meanwhile, the executive branch and the legislative branch are in a race to see who can make us a third world economy the quickest. Ugh.

    Happy New Year, Rick.

  31. 31
    Papa Ray Said:
    10:22 pm 

    The U.S. needs to emulate the Israeli Airport Security.

    They profile people. Not just by race, color or nationality although that is part of the equasion but many other factors such as the things missed on this latest farce.

    You know, a single traveler, paid for his ticket with cash, just before the flight was scheduled. On two lists, The country he originated the flight in, missing documents and last but not least the fact that he had no baggage at all.

    In Israel this guy would have been taken to a back room and strip searched and arrested just from those facts above.

    NO problem in peace prize country, just wave him through on to the jetliner headed to America.

    OH…and their would have been no backlash of “profiling” or “racism” in Israel either.

    Americans are their own worse enemies, we search for “bad stuff”, and crow over the fact that we make you take your shoes off and empty your pockets. Thats OK, no problem with that but what about the old lady or man from florida on vacation? Well, they get the same if not more hassle than the black guy from Detroit with the last name of Mohammad.

    Idiots led by idiots.

    Papa Ray

  32. 32
    BREAKING: Is There New Link in the Al Qaeda Plot Against Hillary? : The Pink Flamingo Pinged With:
    11:31 pm 

    [...] of it, should not be surprised over their reaction to the Hot Pants Bomber .  Rick Moran has an interesting take.  I’m not sure which way to go on this, but I don’t know if incompetence is the whole [...]

  33. 33
    lionheart Said:
    1:15 pm 

    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.

    WTF, Rick? In what way does your very description of Obama not qualify as incompetent?

  34. 34
    Tweets that mention Right Wing Nut House » IS OBAMA BEING PRUDENT OR IS HE INCOMPETENT? -- Topsy.com Pinged With:
    5:28 pm 

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by heather and PeeDiddy Laugher, clint hunting. clint hunting said: RT @CFHeather: Right Wing Nut House » IS OBAMA BEING PRUDENT OR IS HE INCOMPETENT? http://ow.ly/Sm8w [...]

  35. 35
    Scott Said:
    10:17 am 

    TM: “The difference in approach between conservatives and liberals lies in the fact that conservatives see terrorists as the enemy, and the liberals see conservatives as the enemy.”

    Funny, I’ve heard the exact same sentiment from liberals - liberals see various evils as the enemy: hunger, sickness, disease, racism, what have you - and that conservatives see liberalism itself as the enemy (e.g., “Liberalism is a mental disease!” bumper stickers). You’re more alike than you care to admit, using the same exact arguments, except on the flip side of the mirror.

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