Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOTU Post-Mortem: Thiessen (Part I)

By Marc Thiessen
(Cross-posted from The Washington Post)

Listening to President Obama's speech, I could not help wondering how different this night would have been had Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's bomb not malfunctioned. Four weeks ago our country was the target of a catastrophic terrorist attack. But for the grace of God, Northwest Flight 253 would have crashed into downtown Detroit, killing thousands. Yet just a month later, it is an afterthought for this president. His only mention of the failed attack was a passing reference that he was responding with "better airline security."

Worse, the president's brief discussion of terrorism focused not on what he was doing to defend the country but was, rather, a vigorous defense of himself. His first words on the subject were a chastisement of those who would dare criticize his handling of terrorism, declaring that "all of us love this country" and warning his Republican critics to "put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough." It's all about him. No acknowledgement of how close we came to disaster or praise for the brave passengers who subdued the terrorist. No, only this message for his critics: If you question the wisdom of telling a captured terrorist "you have the right to remain silent," you are really questioning the president's patriotism and engaging in childish taunts.

The fact is, the American people have real concerns about Obama's approach to terrorism. They do question the wisdom of eliminating CIA interrogations, closing Guantanamo Bay, bringing the terrorists held there to this country, putting Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and his cohorts on trial in civilian courts, and giving captured terrorists Miranda rights after 50 minutes of questioning. Instead of acknowledging these concerns, Obama dismissed them. It was strange, defensive, arrogant -- and un-presidential.

Thiessen was lead writer of President George W. Bush's last two State of the Union Addresses; author of "Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack"

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