How about a little outrage?


I get No-Drama Obama. I see what it's about and agree with it usually.

But I don't much care for it when an al-Qaida-trained terrorist nearly blows up one of our airplanes on approach to Detroit on Christmas Day. In that case, the drama is already out of the bag.

I want somebody to get dramatic in my behalf -- outraged, I mean -- and to do so instinctively and quickly, if not quite impulsively.

No-Drama Obama, as Barack Obama came to be known in the recent campaign, refers to a style that is restrained, deliberate and measured, and which lets the overheated moment pass before speaking or acting.

Once, when this president took days to speak on some roiling controversy, he was asked to explain his seeming under-reaction. He said he'd always thought it best to know what he was talking about before he actually, you know, talked.

He veered from that at least once as president, speaking without carefully assembled facts. He ended up having to bring a Cambridge policeman to the White House for a beer to try to repair the damage.

So that usual wisdom was no doubt in play during his three-day delay in responding to the Christmas incident.

The Obama administration does not want to frighten us into cowering and declining to proceed apace with our commerce and lifestyle. And it does not want to act as if al-Qaida bothers us much. The thinking is that a war of terror wins if you let it terrorize you.

I see the logic. I also behold the conspicuous vacuum in candid leadership.

Obama said very little even after that three-day silence while on his Hawaii vacation. He emphasized only general assurances that we would be vigilant in attending to our domestic security and tough and persistent in pursuit of those who intend us harm.

Then he went to play more golf.

This came a day after his homeland security chief, Janet Napolitano, had said this, incredibly: "Once this incident occurred, the system worked."

That is to say that the "system" worked by pure blind luck and only after brave citizens held a terrorist down long enough for the agents of that "system" to accept his hand-delivery.

Finally, on the fourth day, Obama saw a political need to get forceful. He said the system had failed and that the failure was wholly unacceptable and could not be permitted to happen again.

These, then, are the lessons to take from this unsettling scenario: You can't avoid drama when drama already has occurred, and a terrorist attack by persons warring against you is bona fide drama already. We lull ourselves into a false sense of security when we downplay that people are trying to kill us. And while it scares us, yes, to ponder such a world, it, more to the point, makes us fighting mad.

We need a president who would fire a homeland security chief who insulted our intelligence by saying a protective system worked after it didn't. We need one who'd tell us the first day this plain truth: There are people trying to kill us and we will go wherever they are -- to outlaw territory of Yemen or deep into Pakistani border caves -- to obliterate them and their evil.

You don't win wars you don't fight. You don't fight effectively unless your people are inconvenienced, indeed frightened, and inspired to be sacrificial, brave and free.

FDR told us immediately that the date of Pearl Harbor's attack would live in infamy. He did not wait half a week and assure us that it would fade into the oblivion of our pretense of business as usual.

John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of "High Wire," a book about Bill Clinton's first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.

 

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