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Ed Driscoll

Is the Undiebomber Obama’s Katrina?

December 29th, 2009 - 8:19 pm

Jennifer Rubin offers “Two suggestions for the president: end the vacation and fire some people:”

Four days after an al-Qaeda-supported Islamic terrorist nearly butchered 278 people, two days after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said “the system worked,” and a day after a slovenly and disengaged performance in which Obama told us that the Christmas Day bomber was really an “isolated extremist,” Obama emerged once again to assure us that, well, okay, we had a “catastrophic breach” of security and a “systematic failure.”

As more details trickle out, we learn that the bomber was likely aided by al-Qaeda and inspired by the same imam who was Major Nadal Hassan’s e-mail pal. Not isolated at all, was he. And now we learn just how catastrophic was the failure:

The father of terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab met with the Central Intelligence Agency at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, and told of his son’s likely radicalization, according to the CIA.The initial meeting Nov. 19 led to a broader gathering of multiple U.S. agencies the next day, including representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department and the CIA, in which the information was shared, a U.S. official said.

With no hint of irony, some hapless official tells us (on background, of course) that “it is unclear whether intelligence officials in Washington effectively collected and analyzed all the relevant information gathered in Nigeria, pointing toward a possible lapse that could have helped prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab getting on the plane he attempted to bomb.” Let me take a stab at that one: they didn’t effectively collect and analyze all the relevant information because Abdulmutallab got on the plane and almost incinerated hundreds of people. So what were Napolitano and the president talking about up until now? Were they trying to flim-flam us or were they grossly and inexcusably unprepared and ill-informed?

This is a scandal of the first order. On this one there is no George W. Bush to blame. There is only the president and his tragically clueless administration. Unlike the  pre-9/11 bits of data, which never wound up in the right hands, in this case we had a specific bomber, a specific tip, and the imam was literally in our gun-sights (reports say he escaped the predator attack). And the intelligence community was given it all on a silver platter. This is the quintessential failure to connect dots. Had the detonator not failed or an alert passenger not intervened, we would have had not a catastrophic failure but a catastrophe.

Two suggestions for the president: end the vacation and fire some people. And if he wants to show that he isn’t cowering from an increasingly infuriated public, he would do well to hold a press conference and answer each and every question put to him. If he chooses not to, the scandal may turn into Obama’s political hurricane, akin to Katrina. Perhaps it already has.

No doubt, Obama’s poll numbers aren’t going to be helped by this Jan-caused disaster. But I doubt if the fallout they’ll face will be as severe as what the Bush administration went through due to Katrina, simply because the media will never gin up a news storm against the man they helped to elect that’s anywhere near as powerful as the one they created to accompany Katrina.  As Mickey Kaus wrote at the beginning of September, 2005:

I’m not saying Bush and the Feds don’t clearly deserve major grief for not getting today’s National Guard aid convoy into downtown New Orleans a couple of days earlier. Some people are probably dead as a result. But the commentators on Washington Week in Review seemed a little too happy when proclaiming this a “debacle” that will damage Bush politically for a long, long time. And I don’t think they were happy just because Bush has suffered a blow. I think it’s because the hurricane and its New Orleans aftermath at least seemed to solve a big problem for anti-Bush commentators and politicians. Previously, they couldn’t grouse about the Iraq War without seeming defeatist (and anti-liberationist and maybe even selfishly isolationist). Even the Clintons never figured a way out of that trap. But nature has succeded where they failed; it has opened up a way out, at least temporarily. Now Bush opponents can argue, in some cases quite accurately, that without the Iraq deployment aid would have gotten to New Orleans faster. And ‘if we can [tk] in Iraq, why can’t we [tk] in our own South?’ They aren’t being selfish. They are just asserting priorities! In short, Katrina gives them a way to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq. No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the “inner smile.”

Building on Byron York’s article today in the Washington Examiner that “Republicans deserve blame for Democratic excesses”,  SusanAnne Hiller of Red State adds that the GOP should have understood what the MSM’s gross dereliction of honesty, beginning in 2005 (even by the media’s rather elastic definition of the word) portended:

York is right in that the GOP did lose the public trust in their capacity to govern in 2006 and 2008 and ultimately “created the conditions” for sweeping losses. The GOP should have tackled the budget and health care reform while they had the chance, and Iraq had its issues. Katrina, although a state and local issue, in addition to a personal responsibility issue as the residents did have mandatory evacuation orders, the GOP and Bush administration took the fall, rather than the irresponsible residents who violated the mandatory evacuation order and mismanagement by Democrat mayor and Democrat governor of Lousiana.

It was at that moment in time the GOP and, frankly, the RNC should have had the epiphany that the MSM was about to steamroll them. The left had their crisis, cries of racism, and so-called federal mismanagement; and in September 2008, they had their financial crisis. As a side note, I always wondered why the GOP never effectively explored the fact that Obama not only did not return to Washington during the financial crisis (yes, I know Obama can walk and chew gum at the same time–I got the memo), but more, why Obama was the ONLY member of Congress who wasn’t even the slightest bit alarmed at the financial meltdown. Remember, if you need me, call me.

The GOP should have put the mainstream media on notice at onset, rather than try to backfill the issues and rightfully blame-shift the disasters to the Democrats, much like Newt Gingrich had done in the 1990’s. The GOP should have called out the media, rather than retreating into a corner so as not to be branded as racists, obstructionists, the party of no, or worse, conservatives.

Again, it was at this time that the MSM started its ground assault of the Bush administration and mauling of the GOP. And the GOP never fought back. Bush never fought back.

With this defeatist attitude, the MSM reshaped conservative thought to hate Bush, creating apathy and division in the Republican party, and ultimately causing Republicans to vote Democrat or stay home on election day in 2008.

In reality, the American people crave a party to take on the media, Democrats, and corruption. Just look at Joe Wilson, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Andrew Breitbart, Rush, Hannity, Beck, Tea Partiers, and [Red State's] own Erick Erickson. Look at Fox’s sky-high ratings. All signs of the American people’s thirst for knowledge and someone–anyone–to stand up against Obama, Congress, the media, and the left. And those who do get major support from the GOP base.

At the liberal Daily Beast Website, Reihan Salam explores how Janet Napolitano’s disastrous recent public appearances — and even worse actual job performance — could impact the left in the coming election year:

The real and lasting damage, however, is not to Janet Napolitano’s tenure in the Obama cabinet. Rather, it is to Democrats running in 2010. One of the quirky things about the post-9/11 political landscape is the way national security issues subtly changed the electoral map. In 2004, when George W. Bush was supposedly the candidate of hard right evangelicals, he did far better than expected in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, where a decent number of middle-class suburbanites—including many Jewish and secular voters—decided that only trigger-happy Republicans intended to take the fight to the terrorists. Now, as Chris Dodd struggles to hold on to his Senate seat, you have Republican Rob Simmons, a CIA veteran, tearing into him for, in his words, sponsoring “an amendment that cut aviation security funding for explosive detective systems that may have prevented Abdulmutallab from ever boarding the plane and putting so many American lives at risk.” Ouch. Whether Simmons’s tough accusations are fair or not—I think they are—they’ll make a powerful 30-second spot. For those who cry foul, try to imagine a world in which the Rahm Emanuel of 2006 refused to use this massive foul-up against Republican incumbents as a matter of principle.

Never let a crisis go to waste.

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