December 28, 2009 9:27AM

Attending to Business

Today, Politico Arena asks:

Flight 253: Do you agree with Janet Napolitano that “the system worked.”

My response:

But for a faulty detonator, NPR reports this morning, and the quick action of a Dutch passenger, nearly 300 people would have met a flaming death near Detroit on Christmas day. And homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano assures us that “the system worked”?

More than eight years after 9/11, and we still don’t have measures in place to keep people with explosives from boarding planes. Instead, we’re now told that we must sit in our seats during the final hour of a flight with not even a paperback book in our laps. Had Ms. Napolitano said that “the system worked as expected,” she would have been right, ironically. To be sure, there have been successes in the war on terror: The Wall Street Journal notes editorially this morning that there were 12 terror incidents, including thwarted plots, on U.S. soil this year. But this latest incident, in the area (airline security) that affects most Americans, and the administration’s response to it, do not give confidence.

The one main reason we have government at all is to better protect us from domestic and foreign threats than we ourselves, acting alone, could do. But as planes were flying to the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the Capitol, Mr. Bush was reading to elementary school children. Perhaps Mr. Obama should turn his attention from taking responsibility for the nation’s health care — the market and private charity can handle that, if he’d just get out of the way — to taking his main responsibility more seriously.