A KATRINA MOMENT - AT 8:55 A.M. ET: The Obamans are having their Katrina moment, following the attempted terrorist airline bombing. And they well deserve it. From The New York Times:
HONOLULU — To the list of phrases it may be best for political leaders to avoid after a major security incident, add “the system worked” right after “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Just as the public did not really share President George W. Bush’s assessment of how things were going after Hurricane Katrina, so too was there a good deal of skepticism when President Obama’s homeland security secretary declared faith in a system that failed to stop a guy who tried to blow up a passenger jet on Christmas Day.
Brownie didn't last long as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Janet Napolitano, she of Homeland Security, must be wondering how quickly she'll be sent back to Arizona.
Napolitano is also the culprit who coined the phrase "manmade disaster" to replace "terrorism." I suspect that "manmade disaster" is now part of history, unless applied to Ms. Napolitano herself.
Ms. Napolitano’s statement was just one of the targets for criticism after the botched Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines plane approaching Detroit. Critics also took aim at Mr. Obama for continuing his Hawaii vacation for three days before appearing in public to address the threat, and they cast the incident as part of a broader assertion that he is not serious enough about terrorism.
And the critics are correct. One gets the sense that, secretly, the very exotic Mr. Obama blames the United States for the incident, and others like it.
By late Sunday, administration officials realized they had a problem on their hands, and made sure that Ms. Napolitano would clarify when she made a previously scheduled appearance on the “Today” show on NBC the next morning. Still, she was being chided by editorial writers across a spectrum from The Washington Post to The New York Post.
The Washington Post's editorial page once again showed its independence from the party line by rapping Napolitano's knuckles.
Ms. Napolitano, a former Arizona governor and federal prosecutor, has drawn conservative arrows before for eschewing terms like “war on terror.” But she appears comfortably safe in her job. White House officials consider her one of the stars of the cabinet for what they see as her firm handed management of an unruly department comprising 22 agencies and 180,000 employees.
As they used to say in the 1950s about Lewis Strauss (pronounced "straws"), the irascible head of the Atomic Energy Commission, "Admiral Strauss is a man who manages things."
When you're safe in a critical security job just because you manage personnel matters well, there's something very wrong.
December 29, 2009