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"The Buck Stops With Me"


By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 08 January 2010

In the wake of the Detroit Christmas-bomber scare and it's aftermath of finger pointing and questionable agency communication, anybody else feeling somewhat refreshed after hearing President Obama speak yesterday? I know it seems strange. I should be shaking in my boots knowing there are lonely, misguided, vulnerable people out there being recruited-or even seeking recruitment-today ready to blow themselves up (along with as many Americans as possible) in the name of Al Qaeda. The target groups seems to be young Muslim men, but who knows? Maybe next time it will be an elderly gentleman or "pregnant" woman. We have no idea what tactics the extremists will employ as they try to plan a "next time." Although cautious and aware of this, I am strangely calm today and I must give President Obama at least some credit for that.

A few things I appreciate about how President Obama has decided to handle this situation and his January 7th remarks.

1.  The pause President Obama initially took to gather and connect all information before rushing to judgement, overreacting, or making ignorant conclusions. At the same time I am impressed at the speed with which this national security report came together once the "dot connection" issues became clear.

From MSNBC First Read:

*** Review fallout: The speed at which the Obamaadministration released its report on the failed attack isunprecedented -- and something that’s probably not being appreciatedright now (considering how short-term the public’s and press’ memory isthese days). Of course, the government should be able to conduct amajor review of a botched terrorist attack in 13 days, right?

2.  The transparency of this administration actually conducting and releasing a report and openly admitting failures (if you read the report, not much spin there, that's for sure.)

3.  President Obama not being power-hungry or controlling by firing a dozen people just to show he is tough. Instead, he demanded improvement and change to "get this right" and followed up by taking responsibility: "The buck stops with me."

4. The other U.S. government agencies admitting mistakes and promising the president they will do better (rather than playing the usual Washington blame-game.)

5.  President Obama reaching out to the Muslim world, most of whom reject this violence and extremism, rather than playing up stereotypes or unfairly painting all Muslims with one broad brush of prejudice.

6.  President Obama being honest with us-treating us like adults, not children-when he says "nothing is foolproof." While he assures us he will put every security measure possible in place, he reminds us to be alert and aware since nothing can be 100% perfect in a world where violent extremists will stop at nothing to cause chaos and death.

7. President Obama BEING a grown-up, owning up to a problem, not trying to blame Bush or make excuses. How uplifting to have a president calling for unity and citizenship in the wake of a frightening event like this and not being reduced to the mindset of the GOP "leaders" and talking heads who can't seem to have a rational dialogue about the real issues involved and would rather play political games to try to highlight disunity through unfair and dishonest partisan attacks, ignoring the fact that such behavior will only embolden the enemy.

You can read the entire transcript here from CNN. However, the portion below, to me, was the most powerful part of President Obama's remarks on January 7th. I think it certainly highlights what is emerging as the "Obama Doctrine."

Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am inlearning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer, forultimately the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemnresponsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when thesystem fails, it is my responsibility.

Over the past two weeks,we've been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting ourcountry against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And whilepassions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let'sbe clear about what this moment demands.

We are at war. We areat war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatredthat attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, andthat is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takesto defeat them.

And we've made progress. Al Qaeda's leadershipis hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners, includingYemen, to inflict major blows against al Qaeda leaders. And we havedisrupted plots at home and abroad and saved American lives.

Andwe know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda. But it isclear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals withoutknown terrorist affiliations, not just in the Middle East but in Africaand other places, to do their bidding.

That's why I've directedmy national security team to develop a strategy that addresses theunique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that's why we mustcommunicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offersnothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including themurder of fellow Muslims, while the United States stands with those whoseek justice and progress.

To advance that progress we've soughtnew beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in whichwe engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect and worktogether to fulfill the aspirations that all people share -- to get aneducation, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security.

That's what America believes in. That's the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.

Hereat home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to asiege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties andvalues that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nationsdon't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. Thatis exactly what our adversaries want. And so long as I am president, wewill never hand them that victory.

We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children.

Andin this cause, every one of us -- every American, every electedofficial -- can do our part. Instead of giving in to cynicism anddivision, let's move forward with the confidence and optimism and unitythat defines us as a people, for now is not a time for partisanship,it's a time for citizenship, a time to come together and work togetherwith the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands.

That'swhat it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism. That's howwe will prevail in this fight. And that's how we will protect ourcountry and pass it, safer and stronger, to the next generation.

 

I haven't read the full transcript, but I particularly liked the comment "We will define our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children."

I am always impressed by anyone who is willing to state they made a mistake.  It is really refreshing when a politician says it.  I am hoping that we applaud Obama for his acceptance of his responsibility so that other politicians will have the spine to follow suit.

Personnally I would love to hear a politician say "I offended you?  I am sorry, in retrospect I see that I was wrong. What I said was stupid and ill thought and rude. I apologize."

I also appreciate the comment that all of us need to work together.  There is only so much that the government can do to protect us if we are not willing to get to know our neighbors and be aware of our surroundings.  

I do like much of the way Obama handled his rebound and his candor certainly constitutes more than a step up from the communications that would have come from his esteemed predecessor. 

Nevertheless, call me old fashioned, but somewhere down the line someone in the "dot connecting" division of  TSA or Homeland Security should develop a sudden desire to leave public life to spend more time with his or her family. No public beheading or big to do.  A quiet little good bye, a generally positive recommendation in the file, an office reception on the last day, and an after work drink with  buddies at a DuPont Circle watering hole before the drive back to Arlington. All good.

My thoughts exactly, Tom, but stated much more articulately and colorfully than I could have done. 

Somebody needs to spend more time with his or her family.

 

Well, I have a strong feeling President Obama looked the main players in the eye and let them know sternly and boldly (but with some chance of redemption): I'll give you this chance to make up for your blunders and correct the problems but if you make one more stupid move or don't show vast improvement, you will be writing a statement about spending more time with your family! Although he is not a yeller, from what I gather, the people around him know when he is angry and feel his wrath quite uncomfortably when on his bad side.

Sometimes when someone gives you a second chance, there is something about that which makes you work twice as hard to impress, make up for past mistakes.

However, when someone gives you a thrid or fourth chance, you know you can keep on slacking...so I can assure you: second chances are allowed and even encouraged under this president (with intense scrutiny) but  third chances? I would not count on it with President Obama.

BTW-I heard the reason his visa did not show up on the computer to be revoked was that a person spelled his name wrong (easy to do with such a long name-but don't these computers automatically pop up similar names?) It makes you wonder about the competence of some of the lower level folks and the sophistication of computer data! 

This has been a disaster for Obama.  A year into this, two terrorist attacks on US soil, one of which was successful.  To make matters worse, Obama appears to be backpedaling in that he is now using the word "War".  What will it take for him to use the term terrorist in a departure from "man caused disaster".   Then there is Eric Holder.  Investigating CIA agents AND granting constitutional rights to war criminals - unprecedented AND misguided.  This is exactly what was foretold before Obama became POTUS, which begs this question: how can someone be a liberal and a republican?  Obamicans either got things wrong or they aren't republicans at all.

You have quite a few facts wrong in your post.  Do some research instead of repeating cliche talking points.  Then we'll talk......

"

You have quite a few facts wrong in your post.  Do some research instead of repeating cliche talking points.  Then we'll talk...... "

If my facts were wrong then you ought reveal how they are wrong.  It looks like you have neither the proof to refute my points nor the willingness to unearth such proof.   Your attempts to characterize what I've said as cliche talking points is itself a cliche that's often heard on MSNBC.  Something odd given the fact that you refer to yourself as a republican.   And your refusal to talk seems more of an attempted escape than genuine indignation towards allegedly inaccurate commentary.  Boxers do this whenever there are opponents who are likely to defeat them - they duck the challenger.

In spite of the fact that you are ducking me, I'll hold the "hope"  that you'll "change" your position and offer a cogent defense of what is essentially the unfounded claim that my facts are not factual.  So I'll wait patiently for something that you are either unwilling or unable to provide.  I believe the latter to be your situation however. 

GO SCOTT BROWN!!!  SUPPORT FAIRTAX!!!

 

We get your type regularly around here, and get tired of it, quite frankly.  Do your own homework, dear.  Here's a hint or two....Start with researching who actually said "man made disaster".  Then look into how often President Obama has used the word "war" long before the Christmas Day bomber. 

I actually quite busy with Haiti, doing my small part, so don't have time to dig.  But you can do it...I have faith in you.

Oh, let's do this...

 

"We get your type regularly around here...."

No surprise there since your brand of republicanism is,  at the very least, hollow, shallow, and quite fraudulent.   I knew there was something fake about you guys simply because it isn't logical for a republican to support a liberal democrat.  A moderate democrat (if such an animal still exists of course) maybe but not a liberal democrat.  It seems the "O" in Obamican is nothing but a giant target which leads to a target rich environment (ie. this blog).

"Start with researching who actually said 'man made disaster'"

Apparently this this Janet Napolitano's invention, created in an attempt to avoid using the word "terrorism".  She argues that the term is a nuance designed to move away from what she describes as "the politics of fear."  Hey, wait a minute, didn't John Kerry try to nuance terrorism as being a "nuisance"?  Anyway,  I don't  know if you defend this but I suppose you being a liberal democrat... oops I meant republican, this term should leave an unpleasant flavor in your mouth.  This is, after all, a major criticism of the Obama administration leveled by the republicans.  You do remember who the republicans are, right?   Anyway, your problem is that you are trying to argue that this is not Obama's doing.  Remember, you countered with this: "Start by researching WHO [emphasis is mine] actually said 'man made disaster'".  You say this as if Janet "the system worked" Napolitano is somehow separate and independent of the very person who appointed her to that position, President Barack Obama.  This euphematic disaster is a policy decision and a policy direction.  The President makes the policy, not his cabinet members.  A high school level civics class just may be the solution to your inability to understand this.

 

"Then look into how often President Obama has used the word "war" long before the Christmas Day bomber."

Once again you seem to brandish a reckless ignorance in this respect.  I have three words for you: "overseas", "contigency", and "operation".  In Spring 2009, Obama - the liberal democrat, scrapped the term "Global War On Terror" and replaced it with "overseas contignecy operation".   The left leaning Washington Post (I'm sure you've never heard of it since you are always reading National Review... I'm just kidding, your secret is safe with me) reports the following:

In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department's office of security review noted that "this administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT.] Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.' "

So in regards to your contention about Obama's usage of the term "war" I have to ask if your are as informed as you pretend to be.  Really, this gaffe of yours is, at best, amateurish.  I am not surprised at your misstep however as amateurish-ness seems the hallmark of not only Obama's policies but of his stauch supporters as well.   Anyway, to sum everything up: Obama made a policy decision to drop the term "War" and implement yet another politically correct euphemism - "overseas contingency operation".  I must say that it looks like you either threw out a question in hopes that I would not pursuit any attempt at discrediting you OR you posited a question in which you pretended to know the answer when you did not.  That's not very smart.

  "...actually quite busy with Haiti, doing my small part, so don't have time to dig."

I applaud your charitable activism but I must urge that you make staying informed a priority because, apparently, its taken a backseat and it shows.

"...don't have time to dig."

Oh be honest for once, Miss "Alleged Republican Who Supports A Liberal Democrat Who Spent 20 Years In A Church Run By A Man Who Damns America".  You do have the time but, as I said before, you are trying to duck me because what you do is merely an act.  A scam.  A flim flam.  But I'll play along since you are kind and generous enough to provide me with such a target rich environment.  Thank you in advance. 

"But you can do it...I have faith in you."

Was there ever really a question about this?  You presented a product that was not only extraordinarily shabby and defective but fraudulent, to say the least.  Really, this was not much of a challenge.  I feel so unfulfilled.  I guess my expectations of you were too high.  At best, your attempts at discrediting me was (note the past tense) itself a "man caused disaster".  

Maybe next time you'll prove to be bit more formidable.  It might prove challenging but you can do it... I have faith in you.  

 

 

 

I probably shouldn't feed the trolls, but what the heck, I'm in a foul mood today (I shouldn't, since CA is getting some much-needed rain, but I digress).

First, to your contention where it is logically inconsistent for a Republican to ever support a Democrat. I would ask how you would view Eisenhower Democrats (which are very similar to the ideological stance of Obama-supporting Republicans) and Reagan Democrats. If you believe them to be a convenient advantage for these Republican Presidents, that would make you as big a hypocrite as many elected Republicans. If you believe them to be logically inconsistent as well, then your political strategy might not be conducive to winning elections.

The scoffing over the "man-made disaster" quote is a red herring, and only matters to those who insist on strict definitions for words. Most people know fully well what Napolitano was talking about, and the change in nomenclature is a non-issue for them.

The rest is nothing more than the rantings of someone who would rather have Dick Cheney at the helm with John Yoo as VP and David Addington as Chief of Staff than the current administration. I'm sure that arguing the finer details would be somewhat entertaining, but for now I'll relegate that to the "arguing with a dining room table" category.

----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Oh no, another RINO....

"First, to your contention where it is logically inconsistent for a Republican to ever support a Democrat."

Please, read my comments and you won't sound so utterly misinformed.  Here is what I actually said:

 "I knew there was something fake about... [republicans that support Obama]  simply because it isn't logical for a republican to support a liberal democrat.  A moderate democrat... maybe but not a liberal democrat. "

magus, what you have done is a variation of a "Strawman" argument.  This comes as no surprise since Obama is also king of the strawman argument (he seems to have an addiction to opening with "There are those who say....") .  magus, I cannot even address your follow up points about Reagan or Eisenhower simply because you failed miserably in quoting me directly.  If you can find patterns of republicans crossing the aisle and voting for liberal democrats  OR liberal democrats crossing the aisle and voting republican, THEN we can talk.

 "The scoffing over the "man-made disaster" quote is a red herring, and only matters to those who insist on strict definitions for words. Most people know fully well what Napolitano was talking about, and the change in nomenclature is a non-issue for them."

C'mon now.  What exactly does "man caused disaster" mean?  I cannot even find a definition for that?  At least with GWOT (global war on terror) most folks can explain what that means.  It was much more specific.  "Man caused disaster" could mean anything and its so broad.  This however, might explain the chaos that seems to characterize Obama's response to the terrorist attacks that have occurred on US soil since he assumed office.  Man caused disaster could mean anything ranging from an overturned garbage truck to a bunch of college students who drink too much at an all you can eat Mexican food festival.  Dude, you gotta do a better job in explaining your point.

"The rest is nothing more than the rantings of someone who would rather have Dick Cheney at the helm with John Yoo as VP..."

 Oh look, magus is dropping names in an attempt to sound impressive.  And just when I expect you to say something very heavy, you retreat and say this:

"I'm sure that arguing the finer details would be somewhat entertaining, but for now I'll relegate that to the "arguing with a dining room table" category."

 Amazing, you have nothing to say and hope that by dripping names you can make me believe that you've actually said something meaningful.  Listen, name dropping without providing information is like giving someone a marshmallow for an entree at the "dining room table".  Its nothing but sugar and air and this summarizes your entire commentary - sugar, air and nothing else worthwhile.  The best thing about your commentary was the strawman argument you tried to use against me and I'm being nice to you.  In actuality, you never completely read my comment and this is why you misquoted me so horribly.  The rest of your commentary was merely empty rhetoric devoid of any substantial content.  For example, name dropping John Yoo.  Yeah, so what about John Yoo?  Seems that all you can do is drop his name and provide virtually nothing else beyond this person's name. 

After I read your comment I said "those are 7 minutes I can never get back."  magus, why did you even bother to post a comment to begin with if you were gonna say a lot of nothing.  I thought you came to debate, not name drop and hide behind strawman arguments.  Dude, you gotta do better.  Your attempted counterargument was shallow, lacking information, inaccurate (in the case of your strawman argument), and an overall waste of time.  Once again, I am unfulfilled.  I feel like my expectations of the folks at this blog are waaaaaaaay too high.  I came here expecting to encounter something akin to Dostoevsky or Kafka but I ended up with the Sunday comic section of some second rate newspaper in a hick town somewhere outside of Moosejaw, Saskatchewan.

 

magus, try again and PLEASE do a better job.

I applaud your charitable activism but I must urge that you make staying informed a priority because, apparently, its taken a backseat and it shows.

"...don't have time to dig."

Oh be honest for once, Miss "Alleged Republican Who Supports A Liberal Democrat Who Spent 20 Years In A Church Run By A Man Who Damns America".  You do have the time but, as I said before, you are trying to duck me because what you do is merely an act. 

Your "compassionate conservatism" overwhelms me.  I must say it seems typical of the breed.  (I remember when those words meant something.)

The rantings of a spinmeister are not important enough to divert me from what I am doing at this point.  Information will be there in a week or two...the people of Haiti may not survive that long.

 Pardon me if I don't take your bait right now.  But I WILL get back to you.  You can count on it.  In the meantime, maybe some other RFOers will discuss your "points".

"Pardon me if I don't take your bait right now.  But I WILL get back to you."

 

No that wasn't bait I offered, it was your behind because I just handed it to you.

"...maybe some other RFOers will discuss your "points"."

Hey Suzi, one of your RFOers tried to step to me and got beat down.  Poor magus, homeboy must feel like a building just fell on top of him.  Keep 'em coming!  This is fun.  I love it when you guys try to step to me...  Here is a video for you guys.

 

Being in the position is really hard. Nobody can put a finger on him telling him what to do because it's really difficult to immediately change and solve issues on the financial system and other problems involving politics. I really like the way he handle things regarding some conflicts and other problems. He seems to be patient and really intelligent in dealing with such problems. Because at some point, I'm still thankful that we, the people are always given the chance to speak about some issues. At least they could realize some points that we are trying to emphasize. Anyway, here's another interesting news. You know, if NBC are cynical and disloyal enough to shaft an institution like The Tonight Show in favor of that chin with bad jokes (Jay Leno), then they don't deserve to hang on to Conan O'Brien. Remember – he had some very successful tenures with Saturday Night Live, the Simpsons, and the Harvard Lampoon. (You do have to go to Harvard to write for the Harvard Lampoon.) It's not like he's going to need payday loans anytime soon. If he's going to get a figurative cactus from a network he's been so loyal to, why not jump ship and go where his talent would be appreciated?

 

Original comment deleted by Al From Bay Shore

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