OH DEAR, THE BRITS NAIL OBAMA AGAIN – AT 12:58 A.M. ET: British writers are coming down hard on Obama, a man most of them don't like anyway, over the terror issue. Tony Harnden, in The Telegraph, nails the president:
Yes, the buck stops in the Oval Office. Obama may have rather smugly given himself a “B+” for his 2008 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.
Actually, the White House thinks that Bush is still in charge of that system.
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. 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.
Today’s words showed a lot more fire and desire to get on top of things – we’ll see whether Obama follows through with action. In the meantime, he went snorkeling.
Whenever there's a flap, Obama thinks he can fix it with words. It isn't working. We've heard the CD too many times before.
There has been a pattern developing with the Obama administration trying to minimise terrorist attacks. We saw it with Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim convert who murdered a US Army recruit in Little Rock, Arkansas in June. We saw it with Major Nidal Malik Hassan, a Muslim with Palestinian roots who slaughtered 13 at Fort Hood, Texas last month. In both cases, there were Yemen connections. Obama began to take the same approach with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. We’ll see whether this incident shakes him out of that complacency. Whether it’s called the war on terror or not, it’s clear that the US is at war against al-Qaeda and radical Islamists.
The president does not want to admit that. It's a visceral thing.
Janet Napolitano, Obama’s Homeland Security Chief, has been a disaster in this, exhibiting the kind of bureaucratic complacency that makes ordinary citizens want to go postal.
She should go, but I doubt if Obama has the guts to fire a female department head.
There’s a continued, unfortunate tendency for everyone in Obamaland to preface every comment about something going wrong with a sideswipe against the Bush administration.
The public is on to this. Obama can't get away with it much longer.
Will there be US air attacks against targets in Yemen? Watch this space. It’s safe to say that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, described to me by a senior intelligence official today as “officially recognised and in corporate terms a sanctioned franchise of al-Qaeda” that is plainly now seeking to become an international rather than just a regional Islamist player.
COMMENT: The president cannot seem to use words like "victory" or "Muslim extremist." He wants to fight a politically correct war. So far it's been a failure. Next year, almost upon us, will be decisive. If Obama is perceived as weak and drifting at the end of two years, he might have to check out the want ads.
December 30, 2009