Double Standards

The Politico, today:

Eight years ago, a terrorist bomber’s attempt to blow up a transatlantic airliner was thwarted by a group of passengers, an incident that revealed some gaping holes in airline security just a few months after the attacks of Sept. 11. But it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks about the so-called “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate.

That stands in sharp contrast to the withering criticism President Barack Obama has received from Republicans and some in the press for his reaction to Friday’s incident on a Northwest Airlines flight heading for Detroit.

Democrats have seized on the disparity and are making it a centerpiece of their efforts to counter GOP attacks on the White House. “This hypocrisy demonstrates Republicans are playing politics with issues of national security and terrorism,” DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said. “That they would use this incident as an opportunity to fan partisan flames…tells you all you need to know about how far the Republican party has fallen and how out of step with the American people they have become.”

The Politico yesterday:

There is a sense of déjà vu in the Obama administration’s response to the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. A by-now familiar pattern has been established for dealing with unexpected problems.

First, White House aides downplay the notion that something may have gone wrong on their part. While staying out of the spotlight, the president conveys his efforts to address the situation and his feelings about it through administration officials. After a few days, the White House concedes on the issue, and perhaps Barack Obama even steps out to address it.

***

After delivering his first public remarks Monday about a Nigerian man’s attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines jetliner over Detroit, the president motorcaded to the golf course at a nearby country club. Optics aside, it had taken Obama three days to issue a statement on the incident, and the administration was left struggling to control the message.

By the time Obama addressed the public with a brief televised statement, his critics had made such headway that the White House was left with this lede in the New York Times: “President Obama emerged from Hawaiian seclusion on Monday to try to quell gathering criticism of his administration’s handling of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner as a branch of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.”

The rules to Calvinball change so quickly, the folks at the Politico don’t even have time to read themselves.

*** Update ***

More here from Joan Walsh.






59 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    God I hate this.

    aimai

  2. 2

    They will get links from Drudge and GOS for those. It’s a ratings win.

  3. 3

    As I just tweeted: Dick Cheney and @Politico can kiss my lily-white ass.

  4. 4
    Emma says:

    Politico is a Republican mouthpiece in disguise. Their basic technique is based on the presumption that nobody remembers what they wrote yesterday anyway. And they’re right. The right-wingers are addicted to getting their dose of new outrage every morning, and as long as they get it, they don’t care if it makes any sense.

    It’s like that movie, Fifty Dates (was that the name?) where Drew Barrymore wakes up each morning with no memory of what went on the day before.

    .

  5. 5

    OT: John, I hope you have an open thread for tonight’s Holiday Bowl between my Huskers and a team from President McCain’s home state. Should be a good’un! The pre-game “warm up” is starting at my place at about 4pm. We’ve got plenty of tequila, beer and artery clogging food to put AA and the FDA on red alert.

  6. 6
    eric says:

    i often hear from people that we have lost the ability to feel shame. (it first started with conservatives like Bill Bennett when directed at Bill Clinton, but i think most of us agree that it applies now to the raging right.)

    Equally as important is our loss of honor and virtue. this applies to the MSM and the Aristotelean notion that one does the work one does in the way the makes your work the very best of that sort of thing it can be. For example, you could say that Peyton Manning is an honorable or virtuous quarterback because he does everything necessary on and off the field to be the best of what a quarterback can be.

    The members of the MSM have no honor or virtue. In truth, they have simply redefined what it means to be a reporter to eliminate the things that they dont do from the very defintion itself. Things such as fact checking, grilling the interviewee on substance, maintaining a sense of proportion, etc. Until there is honor in the MSM, we are going to be fighting a losing battle.

    eric

  7. 7
    inkadu says:

    More retcon’ing for the even-handed “centrist” narrative. Josef Stalin is the real dean of the Washington press corps.

    The Grand Pajandarum’s response to this is mix alcoholic beverages and consume sausages while watching a football game. As Steve Benen would say, that sounds about right.

  8. 8
    Rey says:

    @aimai
    Don’t worry–Thank God tomorrow is a big drunk day, the majority of Americans won’t even remember all of this happened. Including me…

  9. 9
    Dr. I. F. Stone says:

    As the NYT, of all organizations, points out, there was a world of difference between “then and today:”

    “If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the [CIA and the] U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?”

  10. 10
    GregB says:

    Politico, Drudge, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin are all cogs in the outrage mill.

    -G

  11. 11
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    They’re being all things to everyone in an attempt to drive page views. I quit going there because of the potential for whiplash and not being able to sue them for it.

  12. 12
    eric says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone: who is the “we” that failed to stop him?

  13. 13
    Punchy says:

    Isn’t citing Politico for anything political like citing Playboy for hardcore pr0n?

    Just cuz it’s in the name doesn’t really make it so.

  14. 14
    JGabriel says:

    @inkadu:

    The Grand Pajandarum’s response to this is mix alcoholic beverages and consume sausages while watching a football game.

    Damn. When did we turn into Germany? And, if we are Germany, why does our health care still suck?

    .

  15. 15
    tamied says:

    I hate this country. I really do.

  16. 16
    Dr. I. F. Stone says:

    Eric, the “we” is the Obama Administration as they now acknowledge; didn’t you hear the President yesterday?

  17. 17
    Zandar says:

    Well holy crap, the Democrat’s getting held to a different standard from the Village than the Republican, to the point where the Village contradicts themselves in less than 24 hours?

    Perish the thought. Next you’ll be telling me crazy junk like the sun is made of burning plasma instead of being the face of God.

  18. 18
    Zifnab says:

    @Emma:

    Politico is a Republican mouthpiece in disguise.

    It’s a shitty disguise.

    @eric:

    The members of the MSM have no honor or virtue. In truth, they have simply redefined what it means to be a reporter to eliminate the things that they dont do from the very defintion itself. Things such as fact checking, grilling the interviewee on substance, maintaining a sense of proportion, etc. Until there is honor in the MSM, we are going to be fighting a losing battle.

    I guess it depends on what you think the MSM’s job is anymore. Maybe twenty years ago it was important to gather information, build a story, and inform the public of events. Now it’s pure infotainment, with airplane suicide bombers given the same treatment as Tiger’s Wood.

    In a few weeks, a former celebrity will die or the market will shift by more than 3% or someone, somewhere will say something stupid enough to repeat ad nauseum for two weeks straight, and even this will slide down the memory hole.

    The major news outlets simply aren’t interested in news anymore. They just sell ad space for kitchen soap and “We Buy / Sell Gold” scammers. In that sense, they are the height of Aristotelian virtue.

  19. 19
    Comrade Jake says:

    They’re just trying to be fair and balanced. What, don’t you get it?

    Countdown until Armando reposts Cole’s posts from yesterday…

  20. 20
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Janet is toast.

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    @tamied:

    I hate this country. I really do.

    The country is – by and large – full of good people. These good people just aren’t in charge of any major media outlets at the moment.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Dowd and Andrew Sullivan are ignoring new information and sticking to the theme they settled on immediately after the event, that this is DHS’s “fault”.
    We found out yesterday, because the President helpfully told us (click the link John provided, to Joan Walsh) that intelligence agencies didn’t share information with State.
    That’s what makes it a “systemic failure”.
    Firing the person who appears on television immediately after the attack is a stupid response. It won’t help. It might make Dowd and Sullivan feel “safer” but it’s a knee-jerk stupid response.
    Facts matter. What happened matters. What doesn’t matter is giving people a false sense of security.

  23. 23
    Zandar says:

    @tamied:

    Well, why don’t you just move to another country like Canada or Germany where they have health care!

    …wait, dammit.

  24. 24
    Brian J says:

    Normally, I wouldn’t care about this sort of thing–Republicans being childish assholes and liars isn’t new–except that it’s making the job of responsible people a helluva lot harder. And while I’m starting to become numb to the stupidity of it all, I have enough feeling left to still be outraged.

  25. 25
    Dr. I. F. Stone says:

    Kay says: “We found out yesterday, because the President helpfully told us (click the link John provided, to Joan Walsh) that intelligence agencies didn’t share information with State.”

    Actually, this was known earlier, but the President recounted it as if it were new information in order to justify his substantively different position shift from prior statements. Also, who is responsible for the intelligence agencies as well as the State Department and DHS? The last I checked, it was the Obama Administration.

  26. 26
    SGEW says:

    @Zifnab:

    The country is – by and large – full of good people.

    Um . . . it kind of depends on what you mean by “full” and “good”:

    The U.S. public remains split on the use of torture in questioning suspected terrorists . . . . The survey by the Pew Research Center found that 15 percent of respondents said torture can often be justified while 34 percent say it is sometimes justified, for a total of 49 percent. Another 22 percent said torture is rarely justifiable and 25 percent said it should never be used [for a total of 47 percent].

  27. 27
    eric says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone: there were a number of problems, most of which occurred OUTSIDE the US. the one that has been noted is “It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list….”

  28. 28
    Max says:

    @Comrade Jake: So funny. I love how he came over here to lecture John on paragraph composition or some such.

  29. 29
    Joey Maloney says:

    @GregB:

    Regarding America’s favorite caramel-colored angerbunny:

    Having explained to diminutive Rage Imp Michelle Malkin that the ‘SPAN’ in C-SPAN does not stand for the language of those filthy border mudpeople who are cluttering up her White Jesus (NOT HAY-ZEUS!) America, Michelle has graciously accepted their offer to discuss her kinder gentler rewrite of The Turner Diaries on their Sunday morning book show because all of the real authors will either be too hungover or too dead.
    __
    Michelle will also be answering call-in questions. Topics to include (but are not limited to) donut jihad, child stalking, interning brown people not named Michelle Malkin, and The Effect of Gravity Upon Cheerleading When The Rainbow Is Enuf.

  30. 30
    slag says:

    It kind of pisses me off that this incident, which should have emboldened us to see terrorists as the wusses they are, is now being used to promote the cause of terrorism. What? Now I’m supposed to be afraid of eunuchs being read their miranda rights and going to prison? Oooooh…how will I sleep at night knowing that our justice system sometimes works as it should?

  31. 31
    eric says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone: good lord. i hate to engage in this sort of thing, but let’s try this. the guy got on a plane in LAGOS. You know Lagos, the place that you are advised not to travel to because your safety cannot be guaranteed. He was never screened by a US agency. Your argument is with the CIA and if they botched it, they botched it. Do an internal audit to determine and fix the problem. You don’t wet the bed.

  32. 32
    inkadu says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone: Let’s look at your modifiers and see if they make sense:

    If we can’t catch…

    … a Nigerian. Why should Nigerian’s be easier to catch? Are they all known terrorists?

    … with a powerful explosive powder. We should of course be trying to catch people with explosive powder. But the point of using powder is that it is small and easy to conceal. We could use those explosive sniffers, but they’re expensive and would probably trigger long delays in hunting states, and even then might not pick up this stuff.

    … in his oddly feminine-looking underpants. I did not the TSA was responsible for critiquing passengers choice of undergarments, much less using them as a basis for a search.

    … and a syringe full of acid. You mean someone with the equivalent of a small travel sized bottle of liquid and a small tube of plastic with a needle on the end. Not so easy to catch.

    So to summarize the first half:
    If we can’t catch someone from a country with small amounts of powder, liquid, a needle and womens underwear …

    The second half has some more validity. But since it all happened in Europe, I don’t know how much to blame Obama for not personally screening all passengers. Can’t we just continue to improve a system that will always have vulnerabilities and stop playing politics?

  33. 33
    kay says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    The President recounted it because it’s the truth. Of course he’s responsible for all the agencies. It’s why he appeared instead of the director of the CIA.
    I think it’s childish and stupid to stamp our feet and insist that if he fires the person who appeared on television a systemic failure will be fixed.
    We were operating under a false sense of security. The system was tested, and it failed. That’s what he said, and that’s what happened. People who don’t want to hear that are looking for an individual to pin this on, to make it “all better”, and they’ve settled on DHS.
    It’s just bullshit. It’s the equivalent of taking your shoes off at the airport.
    I don’t want him to kowtow to the ninnies who want their hand held.
    Just fix it. No ceremonial fixes or sacrificial lambs, no hand-holding. Dowd and Sullivan need to grow up.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    @SGEW: I was more focusing on the “by and large”, which I will hereby define as 51%.

    What’s more, the 34% that say “sometimes” are as likely as not contemplating the Jack Bauer scenarios that dominate our discourse but remain largely absent from real life events.

  35. 35

    We don’t have security until Obama himself yanks the crotchbombers off the plane while yelling “You gonna be sorry niggah!” at the terrorist.

    Attribution: this idea came to me while reading a BOB post.

  36. 36
    eric says:

    @slag: i would draw the following analogy. I know many, many lawyers that practice law in a way designed to be as obstructionist and disagreeable as possible because to do otherwise is to show weakness. In the end, however, the good lawyers see through that and take advantage of that foolish consistency. Plus, the rest of the world sees them for the jack offs they are. But, still they persist in presenting a forced persona of toughness. The more exaggerated that toughness, the weaker they really are as lawyers. Now insert conservative everywhere and you get the point.

    eric

  37. 37
    inkadu says:

    @eric: The CIA did not “botch” it. The CIA is incapable of botching anything. They are the best the United States has to offer, the most pure, the most noble, the best, the brightest, the most American. How dare you, sir? How dare you?

  38. 38
    eric says:

    @inkadu: you my friend are so off base in the way you belittle the true paraog of institutional virtue: the Young Republicans. The CIA has now been infiltrated by ACORN because their dear friend Barry is now running the operation. Have you no decency? No Shame? :)

  39. 39

    @inkadu:

    the most pure, the most noble, the best, the brighwhitest, the most American.

    Just a small edit.

  40. 40
    inkadu says:

    @Zifnab: A real conservative would dismantle the TSA and insist that all passengers be allowed to carry their own firearms; that would prevent any terrorist incidents. And, besides, it’s every Americans right to physically and violently defend their country, a right that the government takes away every time a terrorist can’t get on a plane.

  41. 41
    Legalize says:

    My weekend is planned:

    1. Take Mrs. Legalize out to dinner tomorrow

    2. (a) Drink beer, (b) eat chicken wings, and (c) get through all 5 seasons of the Wire

    3. Continue to ignore Politico and all cable news

    4. ???

    5. Profit!

  42. 42
    inkadu says:

    @DonBelacquaDelPurgatorio: I just tried to find some stats on CIA’s employee diversity. Couldn’t find any numbers, but lots of indicators that they are trying really, really, really hard. Maybe someone strong in the ways of the Google could get some numbers.

    Incidentally, their front page story is about the death of a CIA lawyer who last worked for them in 1964, and there latest press release is from December 16th penned by Leon Panetta. They sure don’t seem to be acting guilty, so they must be innocent.

  43. 43
    Rey says:

    @DonBela post #35

    I’m typing this from the floor, with my cup of green tea all over me…
    LOL!!!!

    p.s. I love Balloon Juice, thank u John Cole

  44. 44
    Max says:

    @Legalize: I ordered The Wire Series box set from Amazon for $89.99 and it arrived yesterday.

    I’m so excited.

    P.S. I’m also stealing your idea for eating chicken wings and drinking beer. Copywrite infringement.

  45. 45
    slag says:

    @eric:

    In the end, however, the good lawyers see through that and take advantage of that foolish consistency.

    I like this idea and sometimes share it. The concern I most often have is when “the end” will occur. And will it come before or after the rapture?

  46. 46
    Legalize says:

    Max, re the Wire: best money you’ve ever spent (or will ever spend) on something you watch on your television.

  47. 47
    kay says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Or. fire her. After all, she made a “gaffe”. Just don’t kid yourself. The system failed. That’s what happened. You weren’t “safe”, and firing the media scapegoat who put a phrase in the wrong place in a three paragraph statement is not going to do one thing to 1. remedy the problem, 2. prevent the next systemic failure.

    Fixing problems based on a perceptual or political reality won’t work. It didn’t work last time, and it isn’t going to work next time. Perception is not reality.

    I imagine the media ninnies want a sacrificial lamb to soothe their frazzled nerves though, so it might be worth it just to calm them, so they can move on to the next shiny object.

    But they won’t be any safer. And either will you.

  48. 48

    @inkadu:

    I agree with you, if CIA were responsible for anything — anything at all — I know that they would tell us so.

    They are compassionate and freedom-loving public servants who would not hesitate to kill anything and anyone that gets in the way of our liberty. For example, they probably invented the phrase “collateral damage” — that’s what I mean by “compassionate.”

    Anyway, I am glad they are at work 24 hours a day looking out for us.

  49. 49

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    the President recounted it as if it were new information

    Pretty clever, there, dude. Projecting an imagined motive as if it were real information. You don’t know that he didn’t simply decide to include the fact in his remarks at that point, for whatever reason, implying nothing about the timeline of acquired facts, at all.

    Since you don’t know, your assertion that this inclusion had a particular motive is patently dishonest and deliberately misleading. Well, unless you just made an honest mistake.

    Which is it, then. Mistake, or lie, on your part?

  50. 50
    JGabriel says:

    Zifnab:

    The country is – by and large – full of good people.

    Pity they aren’t educated.

    .

  51. 51
    inkadu says:

    @Legalize: Best money you’ve ever spent on television? I take it your name doesn’t refer to copyright laws.

    @DonBelacquaDelPurgatorio: Amen, brother. It’s patriots like you who keep me coming back.

  52. 52
    inkadu says:

    Speaking of the wire, I’ve seen the undiebomber described as a “mook” repeatedly.

  53. 53
    tamied says:

    @inkadu:

    A real conservative would dismantle the TSA and insist that all white passengers be allowed to carry their own firearms; that would prevent any terrorist incidents.

    fixt

  54. 54
    Kurzleg says:

    Joan Walsh hit on something about the nature of the “pants bomber”. She writes, “Abdulmutallab reminds me more of a troubled American school shooter than, say, Muhammed Atta.”

    It’s well known that American gangs routinely target vulnerable youth. They seek out disaffected kids who need a sense of belonging. Seems like this is what AQ (or whomever) is doing now. If that’s the case, shouldn’t that give us a piece to the puzzle of how to prevent such attacks in the future? (Or maybe it illustrates how difficult it will be to prevent them.

  55. 55
    inkadu says:

    @tamied: Do a search on a “NRA diversity” and see what you can come up with. I mostly got things about the National Restaurant Association, even after a specified National Rifle Association -restuarant. One bona-fide rifle page was bitching about the FCC’s diversity tsar… the other one was worse:

    On the value of diversity:
    “The goal of good government is the optimum balance of liberty and order. Social diversity does not pull in that direction. Liberty is what we seek over the centuries, but if we grant it to too diverse a population, order disappears. Regarding the United States… it would seem that we ought to choose assimilation over diversity. It seems to me that diversity, rather than being a goal to be sought, should be an obstacle to be circumvented.” Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries (self-published newsletter)

    Someone needs to start a local diversity outreach group for the NRA and start inviting recruits into leadership positions.

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    If this is failure, it sure beats Bush’s 9/11 success hands down.
    Also, anthrax success. Also John Muhammed car sniper success.

    Security failures at Fort Hood? Unpossible, that’s the military!

  57. 57
    Alan in SF says:

    We who hope that “Calvinball” retains and expands its tenuous foothold in our language applaud your usage.

  58. 58
    celticdragon says:

    @inkadu:

    On the value of diversity:
    “The goal of good government is the optimum balance of liberty and order. Social diversity does not pull in that direction. Liberty is what we seek over the centuries, but if we grant it to too diverse a population, order disappears. Regarding the United States… it would seem that we ought to choose assimilation over diversity. It seems to me that diversity, rather than being a goal to be sought, should be an obstacle to be circumvented.” Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries (self-published newsletter)

    Well, that does take Hobbesian deterministic pessimism to a new level. An initial quibble would be that order rarely “disappears” completely, and one example where it did is in a more or less culturally homogeneous population in Somalia. That being said, I concede that there are numerous examples of culturally diverse societies breaking along ethnic fault lines (like Yugoslavia and Iraq), but I would counter that the societal trend towards acceptance and cooperation was never strong in those places to begin with. American society stresses cooperation and tolerance far more than the authoritarian models that have failed.

  59. 59
    inkadu says:

    @celticdragon: Diversity is weird. You can take populations that speak different languages, put them next to each other, and things can go fine. On the other hand, people can have the same language, culture, and ethnicity, but if they have a slightly different religion then it’s civil war (ireland)… usually there are a lot of political and economic factors involved, so saying that things are the fault of diversity is usually a cop out.

    The problem with the “assimilation” folks is they somehow think THEIR culture is the one everyone should be assimilating to. At this point, the United States would do well to assimilate toward Latin American culture.

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