Get It Through Your Heads: No President Can Keep You Safe


By Joe Campbell
December 30th, 2009


 
Speaking of rooting for catastrophes, it’s hard to see anther reason for Dick Cheney’s continued attempts to politicize national security issues and terrorism. There is a ghastly calculation at work – as Cheney is attempting to set the scene for a Republican reemergence in the aftermath of the next successful terrorist attack.

There is so much glaring idiocy at work in the opinion page responses to the attempted Christmas bombing. Few seem willing to admit the obvious truth: No centralized power can keep us safe. No intelligence system will be perfect. No watch list will be all-inclusive. No screening procedures are foolproof. We can make it harder for a terrorist to succeed, but in order to win, we need to prevent every attack; while they only need to slip through the cracks once. And there will always be cracks. Even in a totalitarian regime, there are cracks. Part of the price we pay for a free society is vulnerability.

Yet, instead we seem to blame or credit the President himself for whether or not he kept us safe. We “got lucky” this time – it is said – but the President should get his act together and prevent another attempt. It was nonsense to say that George W. Bush kept us safe after September 11. And it is nonsense to say that Barack Obama has kept us safe since being elected. They simply do not have the power to do this, fictional narratives like Vince Flynn’s and 24 notwithstanding.

What the president is responsible for – along with the rest of the government – is creating policies and enforcing laws that balance freedom and security. There were failures that allowed the now-spayed bomber to get through security. But – and let me speak clearly here – assholes like Rep. Pete King, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and former Vice President Dick Cheney who are trying to exploit Al Qaeda’s bombing attempt to score political points are beyond contempt. Cheney especially seems to have made the calculation that he can preemptively politicize the aftermath of the next attack.

What further demonstrates the bad faith of these assholes is that they offered no such criticisms of George W. Bush after the “shoe bomber” slipped through security and attempted to blow up another plane in December, after which Bush failed to immediately call it terrorism, and after which he did not immediately comment. I didn’t blame Bush for this at the time – and neither did the Democrats. Yet now, when Al Qaeda attempts an attack, rather than unifying us, provides yet another excuse for King, Hoekstra, and Cheney to bash the man whose agenda they despise.

Even worse, in doing so, they support the illusion that a tough President has the power to keep us safe – that if only we acceded enough power to Big Brother, everything would be alright.

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