Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Republican Partisanship and Hypocrisy: Reaction to the Christmas Day Bombing Attempt

OK. The blogging hiatus is officially over. I was waylaid by a combination of busy work, busy holiday preparations, and disillusionment over the course of health care reform. It became too depressing to observe Democrats rolling over time and again to a few traitorous Republicans in Democrats' clothing (I'm looking at you, Joe Lieberman!)

But now, we are on the verge of a new year and a new decade (if you believe the decades start with "0" and not "1" -- a whole other debate). Too bad it's the same old business for Republicans: putting politics over country, bringing hypocrisy to new levels, and epitomizing the meaning of the phrase "double standard." I'm talking, of course, about the Republican reaction to the failed terrorist attempt aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

The Republican response to this frightening attempted act of terrorism was not a swift denouncement of terrorism, extremism, or Al-Qaeda. Nor was it an inspiring rallying of the citizens of this country around a common cause or praise for the swift actions of heroes aboard the airplane who helped prevent a tragedy. No, the Republicans are using this incident as a way to, you guessed it, attack and denounce our President, his staff and the White House handling of the situation.

The hypocrisy of the Republicans is amazing considering that the airport security measures in place to prevent terrorist attacks are what Bush and Cheney put in place during their administration. Weren't they supposed to have fixed the problems of agencies not talking to each other and red flags not being picked up by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security? And wasn't the terrorist (alleged) in Amsterdam and not the U.S. when he boarded that fateful flight?

And finally the double standard. Let's put aside the 9/11 occurred on Bush and Cheney's watch and they ignored very specific warnings of such an attack and then pleaded ignorance. Let's examine a situation very much in parallel to what happened on Christmas Day this year -- Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and his failed attempt to blow up a plane. Sam Stein of Huffington Post has put together a point-by-point comparison of how the Bush Administration and Bush himself responded to that incident versus how the Obama Administration and President Obama himself have responded to this incident. Bottom line, Bush only mentioned the incident six days later, and then only in passing. Before that there was only reference to the White House "monitoring the situation". Interesting, eh? In fact, the shoe bomb incident took place on December 22, 2001. Bush was at Camp David. He left Camp David for Crawford Ranch (where he spent a huge percentage of his presidency) on December 26th. On December 27th, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference regarding a new Osama bin Laden tape that had surfaced. According to Sam Stein's research:
In that press conference, Rumsfeld was ... asked about Richard Reid -- now five days after the incident. "That's a matter that's in the hands of the law enforcement people and not the Department of Defense," he said. "And I don't have anything I would want to add."

It would be another day before Bush himself publicly mentioned the shoe bomber. In a press conference on December 28, in Crawford, the president said that incident was proof that "the country has been on alert."
In contrast, President Obama and the White House have been very active in responding to and communicating about the incident. Refreshingly, they have even been open and honest about failures that took place leading to the incident. And please note that Janet Napolitano's comments after the attack have been misquoted and misrepresented. If you read the transcript of what she said here or in other publications, it is clear that she never said "the system worked" in its entirety as she has been repeatedly lambasted for by the right. The context was clearly that once the incident occurred, the system did what it was supposed to do in response.

But I digress. The point is that there is clearly a double standard here, and that the Republicans are shameless in their hypocrisy. Their talking points are that Bush could do no wrong and Obama can do no right even to the detriment of the country and its safety.