We all knew Dick Cheney would have something to say about Obama’s handling of the Underpants Bomber. Today we hear an earful:
"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be 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 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.
“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation—the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."
I think Cheney has touched on the key thing why Obama is getting fried for his response to the Underpants Bomber. It is Obama’s actions leading up to the Underpants Bomber that gives the perception that Obama is weak on terror.
Many are trying to draw the comparison of how people reacted to Bush and the Shoe Bomber vs. Obama and the Underpants Bomber. Perception is the key. The Shoe Bomber incident happened shortly after 9-11. The Bush administration was still doing a gazillion things to get new security in place. Bush was still putting TSA together too. Even though it took Bush 6 days to speak to the American people about the Shoe Bomber, there was no crazy statements or missteps from Bush underlings prior to his speaking. America had a perception that things were under control and that everything humanly possible was being done to thwart terrorism.
Compare and contrast Obama today. The Underpants Bomber comes on the heels of Ft. Hood, where there was great reluctance to even mention terrorism and Nidal Hassan in the same sentence. Furthermore, Obama has spent a year undoing many of the security measures that Bush put in place (attempting to close Gitmo, sending Uygers to paradise, investigating the CIA, etc). But most damaging for Obama was having to come out after Janet Napolitano made a complete fool of herself. To make matters worse, Obama allowed the image of himself being interrupted from his fancy Hawaiian vacation (Bush was vacationing quietly at Camp David) to take hold in the minds of Americans.
If Obama wants to regain control of the situation, then he is going to have to take some bold steps to appear like he takes terrorism seriously. I would start by kicking Napolitano to the curb. The last thing you want is the impression that your administration is comprised of incompetent boobs. Next, halt the closing of Gitmo. Everyone knows there are tons of terrorists there from the new terror hot spot Yemen. Finally start briefing the public regularly as to what you are doing to get to the bottom of the situation. Inform the public what actions you are taking to make sure this never happens again.