The day after the attack, Obama mouthpiece Marc Ambinder insisted that by going off to play golf The One had denied AQ the “symbolic victory” that comes when the president admits to worrying that someone just got on board a plane with a bomb. Which is par for the course: To blunt the right’s claims that they don’t take terrorism seriously enough, the left now argues semi-seriously that it’s because they’re so darned brave that they’re able to shrug it off when passengers are forced to jump a jihadi with PETN in his pants. Cowardly conservatives wring their hands; real men laugh at such things and hit the beach at Waikiki. No one actually believes that except them, of course, which is why (a) they’ll never, ever run on that idea, and (b) the presidential presser you’re about to watch was ordained pretty much at the moment Abdulmutallab was taken into custody. When even Captain Legtingle is screaming about the horrible optics of taking vacation while this was playing out, you know Obama’s made a serious miscalculation.

But that’s not why I’m posting this. I’m posting it to call your attention to the astounding fact that the National Counterterrorism Center — the very agency that failed to connect the dots on Flight 253 — was actually slated for budget cuts this year before the attack happened.

The highly touted intelligence fusion center at the heart of the nation’s counterterrorism establishment was preparing for deep budget cuts across 2010, senior intelligence officials said. According to one official, who asked not to be identified because intelligence budget matters are classified, the administration and Congress slashed the budget for the National Counterterrorism Center by at least $25 million. Those affected, the official said, included employees responsible for maintaining the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system, which contains the list of about 550,000 known or suspected terrorists…

“Without question, recent events will cause those proposals to be re-considered,” an intelligence official said.

The One, who never met a spending program he didn’t like, evidently had decided that we could trim some of the federal fat … in our intelligence nerve center. Wonderful.