The W. Swagger


Dick Cheney is a blessing as former Vice President, happily going where no one else has the gravitas, or chutzpah, to go.

“[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe,” Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO. “Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war?… He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.”

The reality of terrorism as a true American threat contradicts their worldview. That’s why the Obama administration is struggling to find its comfort zone in response to the BVD Bomber – an event that wouldn’t have quickened the pulse at the Bush White House. Here’s what UK columnist Toby Harnden has to say.

There is no more solemn duty for an American commander-in-chief than the marshalling of  “all elements of American power” – the phrase Obama himself used on Monday – to protect the people of the United States. In that key respect, Obama failed on Christmas Day, just as President George W. Bush failed on September 11th (though he succeeded in the seven years after that).

They’ve known this challenge was going to be coming their way, they’ve presumably rehearsed for it, so why are they still scrambling to organize their response?

Obama may have rather smugly given himself a “B+” for his 2009 performance but he gets an F for the events that led to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarding a Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam with a PETN bomb sewn into his underpants.  He said today that a “systemic failure has occurred”. Well, he’s in charge of that system.

On Tuesday, the White House finally got its sea legs, offering the realistic response that was four days in the making. Was that prompted by a desire to undo the damage done by the Napolitano “the systems worked” fiasco, or was it a repositioning to prepare for a barrage of bad news to come.

Abdulmutallab’s father spoke several times to the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and visited a CIA officer there to tell him, apparently, that he feared his son was a jihadist being trained in Yemen. According to CNN, the CIA officer wrote up a report, which then sat in the CIA headquarters at Langley for several weeks without being disseminated to the rest of the intelligence community… If it’s true that the CIA sat on this then it beggars (defies) belief.

The fact that the BVD Bomber’s father met with CIA is huge – it means that somehow the message failed to transmit through Obama’s intelligence community – either because CIA buried it, or because it bogged down later. Either way, Obama’s chances of avoiding severe damage from the incident mean creating a sense of presidential conviction that this is big stuff and he’s on top of it – something he failed to communicate early on – and something that undermines the expectations of his philosophical brethren.

In his studied desire to be the unBush by responding coolly to events like this, Obama is dangerously close to failing as a leader. Yes, it is good not to shoot from the hip and make broad assertions without the facts. But Obama took three days before speaking to the American people, emerging on Monday in between golf and tennis games in Hawaii to deliver a rather tepid address that significantly underplayed what happened.

For those of us who spend our lives following politics, watching Obama and his team struggle to find their footing on this one is fascinating – and inexplicable.

He described Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist” who “allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body” – phrases that indicate a legalistic, downplaying approach that alarms rather than reassures.

Obama’s best bet, as well as the nation’s, would be if he would adopt the W. Swagger.

No Responses Yet to “The W. Swagger”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: