Two Holiday Terror Plots, Two Different Reactions

Are conservative attacks on Obama hypocritical?

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Since the failed Detroit terror plot, conservatives (including Dick Cheney) have slammed the president for his "casual" response to the averted crisis. But today, Democrats are on the offensive, reminding the GOP of President Bush's arguably less attentive response to the failed shoe bomber plot by Richard Reid in 2001. In that case, "there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate," reports Politico. So is it hypocritical for conservatives to now attack Obama? Bloggers from the left and right wrestle it out:

  • Maybe They Forgot About Richard Reid, writes Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly: "The Reid and Abdulmutallab cases offer nearly identical circumstances -- same chemical, same target, same intended consequence, same month of the year, same twisted ideology. Reid was charged, convicted, sentenced, and locked up for life. Neither conservatives nor liberals whined about it. But if the Obama administration subjects Abdulmutallab to an identical process, Republicans are outraged? Either they're idiots or they think we are."
  • Bush Didn't Respond Until 6 Days Later, writes Sam Stein at The Huffington Post: "President Bush did not directly address the foiled plot for six days, according to an extensive review of newspaper records from that time period. And when he did, it was only in passing...The bellowing by Republicans over the Obama administration's supposedly lackadaisical response to the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit seems as much about political posturing as legitimate national security concerns."
  • Even Rumsfeld Called it 'Law Enforcement,' writes Matt Corley at Think Progress. He latches onto Dick Cheney's complaint that Obama's not taking this incident seriously: "Cheney's claim that the Obama administration's response to the attempted airline bombing is 'trying to pretend we are not at war' is especially hypocritical because one of the Bush administration's first public comments on the 2001 attempted shoe bombing specifically called it a 'law enforcement' issue. At a press conference five days after the incident, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld brushed off questions about Richard Reid's failed bombing by saying, 'That's a matter that's in the hands of the law enforcement people and not the Department of Defense.'"
  • Different Contexts, writes James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, defending the conservative position: "The two plots took place in very different contexts. Reid's plot was mere months after 9/11, during which time Bush was overseeing a radical revamp of airline security procedures, the creation of TSA, the forming of the Department of Homeland Security (all of which I vehemently opposed as both silly and unconstitutional) and launched a war in Afghanistan (which I supported). So, not only was the public conditioned to think terrorist plots were normal but they were keenly aware that the president was handling the situation, even if they weren't thrilled with how he was doing so. Fast forward eight years. We haven't had a terrorist attempt aboard an aircraft since Reid's comically failed attempt to ignite his shoes. The public is complacent, correctly viewing airport security as a nuisance."
  • Bush Admin Was on Top of Its Game, writes Stop the ACLU: "[Obama's] admin dithered for days over their response, and sent out idiotic Janet Napolitano to say that the system worked... Secondly, yes, it did take 6 days for Bush to make a response himself, but, as the Huffington Post inadvertently points out, the Bush admin was on top of its game." He then refers to White House spokesman Scott Mclellan's contact with reporters. "The Bush admin. gave measured responses and was paying attention. While he was certainly on Christmas vacation, much as Obama was, we did not get stories about Bush getting a briefing, then running off to the gym 15 minutes later, then playing golf. Multiple times."
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