It is kind of hard to follow the news and not see wall to wall coverage of the attempted terrorist attack aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. And while you've also probably seen a handful of political figures rush to get on television -- I mean heck don't get caught between Rep. King (R-NY) and a camera -- President Obama has remained silent. Indeed, yesterday, the president went golfing.
Well Marc Ambinder has a must read post at The Atlantic yesterday called, "Why The President Went Golfing Today," that outlines why this is the case. I have to admit I didn't connect the dots on why this is the case as Marc did, but when it is laid out for you it makes a lot of sense. Short version of his take: after eight years we finally have an adult in the White House.
Marc Ambinder says not seeing Obama on TV 24/7 is actually a deliberate White House strategy:
Here's the theory: a two-bit mook is sent by Al Qaeda to do a dastardly deed. He winds up neutering himself. Literally.
Authorities respond appropriately; the President (as this president is want to do) presides over the federal response. His senior aides speak for him, letting reporters know that he's videoconferencing regularly, that he's ordering a review of terrorist watch lists, that he's discoursing with his Secretary of Homeland Security.
But an in-person Obama statement isn't needed; Indeed, a message expressing command, control, outrage and anger might elevate the importance of the deed, would generate panic (because Obama usually DOESN'T talk about the specifics of cases like this, and so him deciding to do so would cue the American people to respond in a way that exacerbates the situation. [...]
Let the authorities do their work. Don't presume; don't panic the country; don't chest-thump, prejudge, interfere, politicize (in an international sense), don't give Al Qaeda (or whomever) a symbolic victory; resist the urge to open the old playbook and run a familiar play.
If this event had happened on Bush's watch, we'd see Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Ridge (and maybe Bush himself) on all the Sunday talk shows pounding their chests and maybe even suggesting we invade Yemen. Any critics of Bush would be said to be "aiding and abetting" terrorist. Somehow they'd tie Iran into it all and threaten them as well.
Or put another way they'd would use this terrible event to try to get a "bump" in the polls and to attack those that didn't agree with them. They politicize an attempted terrorist attack. As Steve Benen said today at Washington Monthly:
Obama and his team obviously prefer a far more mature, strategic approach. It's about projecting a sense of calm and control. It's about choosing not to elevate some lunatic thug who set himself on fire [....] It's about competent and effective leadership, and it's what the country was sorely lacking up until 11 months ago.
Of course we won't hear about any of this in the "traditional media" today or in the coming weeks and the difference in Obama's response is not only stark, but important. Heck I just saw Janet Napolitano interviewed on Meet the Press and David Gregory seemed confused (I know, nothing new) cause she was calm, said we needed to wait to get more information, and in general seemed sane and in control.
I know this issue isn't health care reform, global warming, or the economy, but I think how Obama is handling this is just as important for our future. We finally have an adult in the White House.
Update: To highlight my point even more we now have this sick display:
Some have wondered this year if, in the case of a deadly terrorist attack, Republicans could bring themselves to put patriotism over party, and rally behind a president they disagree with. I think we're getting a sense of the answer.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said Sunday that it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.
Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Select Intelligence Committee said that the administration has not taken the threat of terrorist threats on the U.S. seriously.
Asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attacks, the Michigan Republican replied "Yeah, I think it really is."
Not quite 48 hours after a Nigerian man -- who got a visa to enter the United States from the Bush administration -- unsuccessfully tried to kill Americans, Pete Hoekstra, one of Congress' more offensive buffoons, is going on national television to blame the Obama administration.
I know I shouldn't be surprised, but this is nauseating.
I am sure Gibbs and Napolitano knew the Bush State Department issued him the visa before they made their rounds on the Sunday shows today, and pounded Bush and the Republican Party 24/7, yet they didn't.
Update II: Peter King not wanting to be outdone by Hoekstra I guess, told CNN today that Obama not doing a press conference about Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was the same as Bush not going to New Orleans right after Katrina hit. Crooks & Liars has the video.
Update III: It would Sen. Jim DeMint wants to join the game. Today he told Fox News' Chris Wallace that unionization was a threat to airport security.
"We have to outthink the terrorists and when we formed the airport security system, we realized we could not use collective bargaining and unionization because of that need to be flexible. Yet, that appears to be the top priority now of the administration," DeMint said Sunday.
So the fact Obama would like TSA employees to be able to join a Union is endangering us.