Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Barack Obama, International Man of Action

Christmas Day 2009.
American resident Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a member of the national terrorist database, pays cash for a one-way ticket, saunters through TSA security and onto Northwest Airlines flight 253 and, while in midair, ignites a bomb on the flight filled with 290 people. The bomb does not explode as well as designed, passengers subdue Abdulmutallab, and Flight 253 lands in Detroit.

72 hours pass.

President Obama makes his first, highly anticipated public statement on the first al Qaida terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11: “As Americans we will never give into fear and division.” After a few more sentences, he walks away from the podium, leaving a collective sense of “is that it?” Then he sends Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to make the rounds of the Sunday news shows and report that Obama’s security measures “had worked” (though, one day later, Napolitano would report that they “had not worked”).

The President solemnly assures the American People “We will not rest until we find all who were involved.”

24 hours pass.

President Obama pulls the five iron from his bag, carefully planning his approach shot to the 8th hole green on Hawaii’s Luana Hills Country Club, when an aide breathlessly runs up to him with the phone. After a few words, POTUS instantly springs into action. Time is of the essence. As the New York Times describes the scene, “they suddenly jumped into the presidential motorcade and made a dramatic, high-speed departure.”

Had they found those involved in the terrorist attack? Was Obama delivering on his oath that he would not rest until those involved were captured? Not quite. It seems the son of a friend of the President had fallen off his surf board and scratched himself, though not requiring stitches.

It would be too easy merely to snicker at Obama’s massive overreaction to the latter scenario in inverse proportion to his massive under-reaction to the former. Nearly one year since his inauguration, we can safely conclude that this man has pathetically little appreciation for his office.

After all, Obama prostrates himself to foreign monarchs and despots, insults our loyal allies in England, abandons security defenses for budding democracies in Eastern Europe, and apologizes to, of all nations on Planet Earth, France (France!) for being arrogant!

Mel Brooks played the bumbling Governor Le Petomane in Blazing Saddles, but at least he provided comic relief and we were able to end the farce by walking out of the movie theater. Sadly, though, this isn’t a movie, and this theater has no exits, leastways not until 2012.

Leadership is an intangible quality difficult to describe, as human traits go. But no viable definition of leadership includes responding with flaccid indifference to the first domestic terror attack since 9/11 while simultaneously responding with lightning gusto to a stranger’s boo boo. Obama, the International Man of Action, needs better directing or scripting, lest he become President Le Petomane.

Susan in Glendale

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