Obamateurism of the Day

Byron York notes that the fumbled response by Barack Obama to the Christmas Day bomb attempt on Northwest 253 was no accident. Obama had campaigned on reducing the attitude of fear that surrounds terrorism by nonchalanting it. Unfortunately, his DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, nonchalanted it so much that it looked as if a minor injury to one of the Obama’s young guests in Hawaii was a higher priority than a terrorist attack:

The attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was more than just al Qaeda’s latest attempt to bring death and destruction to American shores. It was also, in its still-unfolding political aftermath, a head-on collision between Barack Obama’s soaring rhetoric and the reality of terrorism.

Obama’s first response to the incident, or nonresponse, did not surprise anyone who followed his 2008 presidential campaign. As a candidate, Obama repeatedly accused the Bush administration of using terrorism to spread fear among the American public for political gain.

“Since 9/11, we’ve had a president who essentially fed us a politics of fear,” Obama said at a December 2007 Democratic debate in Iowa. “We have been governed by fear for the last six years,” he said two months earlier in Philadelphia. “We’re tired of fear,” he said still earlier at a debate in South Carolina.

Obama pledged a new, quieter approach. He would improve America’s image in the world, reach out to Muslims and dial back the fear. …

By New Year’s Eve, however, Obama and his team knew they had mishandled matters. Not only had Obama remained silent for too long, but the president mischaracterized al Qaeda soldier Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist” in another apparent attempt to downplay the seriousness of the attack.

By Sunday, the White House sent top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan on a tour of the Sunday talk shows — Fox, NBC, ABC, CNN — to do damage control. Brennan belatedly stressed that the White House took Abdulmutallab, Yemen, al Qaeda, air safety — the whole range of issues — very, very seriously.

Obama could have demonstrated that himself by showing some sense that the attack had his attention. Instead, this appeared to be the only thing that could interrupt the President’s golf game:

US President Barack Obama dramatically broke off a round of golf and rushed back to his rented vacation home followed by an ambulance with lights flashing.

Fears that something might have happened to First Lady Michelle Obama or daughters Malia and Sasha were laid to rest later as it emerged that all the fuss was about the son of a friend of the president’s with minor injuries.

“The First Family is fine,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said, following the drama which forced Obama to suddenly rush off the links and race home in the presidential motorcade.

An administration official said the child of one of Obama’s golfing partners had been hurt in a “run of the mill beach injury” but did not require stitches.

Perhaps if Obama had shown that much concern in the first few hours or couple of days of his vacation about a terrorist attack as he did for a beachfront boo-boo, Brennan could have taken Sunday off.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

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