January 8, 2010 10:28AM

The Buck Stops with Obama

Today Politico Arena asks:

Do you feel safer from terrorism today than you did the day before? Assess Obama’s response.

My response:

So Obama tells us that the buck stops with him. Aides signaled that in saying that, Politico reports, the president “was consciously seeking to be the anti‐​Bush, airing his administration’s dirty laundry and stepping up to take his share of the responsibility.” Yet as Arena contributor Dana Perino notes in response, with evidence in hand, they don’t even have their facts right. Bush repeatedly took responsibility, and for good reason: There was much to be responsible for, not least the creation of the intelligence bureaucracy that failed so clearly to connect the Christmas Day dots, as discussed in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.
But before we heap too much blame on the bureaucracy and those who created it, let’s recognize that this administration’s obsession with appearing “anti‐​Bush,” which has been its leitmotif from the start, could hardly have inspired even the most conscientious bureaucrat. This is not the place to recount the countless ways Obama and his people have sought to downplay the terrorist threat — or “man‐​caused disasters” — even as no fewer than 12 terrorist incidents, including thwarted plots, were unfolding on American soil during its tenure, culminating with November’s Fort Hood murders. Arena contributor Walter Russell Mead put it well last evening: “The narrative that a lawyer‐​run, PC‐​happy, Miranda crazed administration is coddling criminals rather than protecting the people has been gaining a kind of subterranean credibility out there past the Beltway.” And not without reason.
We can hope that the administration is at last taking terrorism seriously, but there are still too many signs that it is learning on the fly, so we will have to keep reminding Obama and his people that the buck does indeed stop with them.