Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Truman Show

President Obama took full responsibility for the lapsed intelligence that allowed a Nigerian terrorist to board a Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam on Christmas Day and almost blow it up. In ordering changes to the nation's anti-terrorist system, such as adding air marshals to flights and expanding CIA name traces, he took the approach Harry Truman always had as President - accepting blame for anything going wrong on his watch. Or, as Truman always liked to say, "The buck stops here."
This is a refreshing change from previous administrations, such as that of Ronald Reagan (who would always say that "mistakes were made") and George Walker Bush, who would subject underlings who screwed up to receiving a Medal of Freedom. Obama has likely to earn himself a fair amount of good will with his tough stance on correcting the mistakes of his administration in the struggle against al-Qaeda and the commitment to fighting the terror network, even if sending more troops to Afghanistan isn't really the way to do it. He also admitted that the system can run perfectly well and still not be entirely foolproof (like Truman, he told the truth), but that should not stop the country's efforts against al-Qaeda. Will this help Obama with his critics?
Not a chance.
As sure as the Cheney family is ready to put out another press release attacking the President, congressional critics are likely to press for a greater investigation. And if the Republicans had the opportunity, they'd get a special prosecutor to see if there are grounds for impeachment. Because Obama is not likely to win a lot of trustworthy allies by doing or trying to do the right thing. As Truman also famously said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

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