President Obama stood behind a lectern at the White House State Dining Room on Thursday, and said that “the buck stops with me” when it came to the intelligence lapses that led to the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing.
Much of the reaction to Mr. Obama’s remarks and on his directive to his intelligence agencies to streamline how terrorism threats are pursued and analyzed, focused on tone and about whether he seemed to be taking terrorism seriously enough, as his Republican critics have charged. On the blogs, comparisons to his predecessor were almost inevitable, by those who support him and those who do not.
Jennifer Rubin at Commentary points out that during the campaign, Mr. Obama convinced a lot of voters “that he was good in a crisis, calm and reflective.” But what seemed as calm then, she says, now comes across as indecisive.
There is a professorial or perhaps bureaucratic quality to it, as if the meetings themselves were the solution or the appearance of thoughtful discussion would soothe the public. But that’s what gets you through a campaign. Now, when he’s invested with the full power and responsibility of the presidency, he doesn’t appear to be leading or setting policy. Rather, he’s buffeted by one or another crisis.
She says that George Bush was mocked for calling himself “the decider.”
“But come to think of it, that’s what we could use — a no-nonsense and decisive leader who can (as Bush did on the Iraq war) see when policy has gone awry, fire advisers, and communicate complete determination to achieve his aims. We could use some of that now. And fewer meetings.”
Joan Walsh at Salon also brings up George Bush. As she watched Mr. Obama speaking yesterday from the White House, she writes, “one thought was inescapable: Imagine President Bush doing the same thing after 9/11. I know, you can’t. I couldn’t either. In almost eight years, he never did.” She goes on to say:
While Obama declared “we are at war” with al-Qaeda so many times even Dick Cheney may have to finally stop lying about it, I was most impressed with the resolve and calm at the end of his remarks.
On “Good Morning America” today, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, offered rare praise for the president, saying he had “turned the corner’’ on the fight against terrorism. But he also criticized the Obama administration’s decision to try terrorism suspects in criminal courts, instead of the military courts.
The terrorism report took the focus off the other dominant news in Washington, about the anxiety among Democrats about a possible shift in the balance of power in both houses of Congress since the sudden announcements that Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota will not seek re-election. Today, our colleague Abby Goodnough writes that the race to fill Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts now doesn’t seem as certain a win for the Democrat, Martha M. Coakley, as it once did.
There seems to be some pushback by those who argue that reports of the Democrats’ reversal of fortunes may be a bit premature. Joe Conasan at Salon writes:
The tendency to exaggerate Republican prospects and Democratic woes is among the most consistent biases in American mainstream media — as yesterday’s coverage of Senate race developments demonstrated — and will only grow more pronounced as the midterm elections draw closer.
Meanwhile, the Republicans seem just as divided about their leadership.
Michael Steele, the Rebublican National Committee’s chairman, is ruffling feathers within his own party with remarks he has made in interviews about his new book. He said on ABC that critics who don’t like his leadership style told ABC could “shut up” or “get a life.”
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes that the chairman should take his own advice.
According to Reid Wilson at Hotline, House and Senate leaders are furious with Mr. Steele for saying on Fox News that the G.O.P. will not be able to take back the House, “and that even if they did, the party would not be prepared to lead.”
But Dan Riehl at Riehl World View says Republicans leaders should not be so quick to reject Mr. Steele’s criticism, because, in his opinion, they have not done enough to help conservatives win office against more moderate Republicans.
In the meantime, the Tea Party Nation, one of several groups calling using Tea Party in its name, and all of which are giving voice to some of the most conservative voters, has announced that it will host its first national convention next month, in Nashville, and that Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, will be the keynote speaker.
It’s hard for a good conservative to know which group best represents their interests. Ms. Palin has turned down a chance to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference next month although she will speak at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in April.
And it’s also hard to figure out which Tea Party is the right tea party. Lonely Conservative writes today about how torn he is:
I’ve been to the tea parties in my area. I can’t continue to support a movement that could end up strengthening what the movement is supposed to be against. I’m starting to get mad. I’m starting to believe that the Tea Party movement has been taken over by opportunists.
Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report asked Erick Erickson of Red State to help him sort it out the other night.
If you were going to advise me which tea party to join, would I join the Tea Party Patriots, the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Nation or the Red Zingers?
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The New York Times