Obama’s Pet Goat: Watch This Drive


TV writer Steve Marmel takes to the pixels of HuffPo to excoriate President Obama for continuing his vacation in the wake of the failed Detroit terror plot.

[T]he only thing that stopped 12/25 from feeling a lot like 9/11 was a failed detonator and a guy named Jasper Schuringa. Weather now seems like a quaint travel threat – like a cold does compared to the Bubonic Plague.


Meanwhile, the president continues his vacation. News that he hit the gym 15 minutes after being briefed on the attack – and had a lovely time playing golf later that day – begin to trickle in.

America lucked out this holiday season. It’s as simple as that. Something terrible could have happened and It was the bravery of passengers, and the ineptitude of a would-be terrorist, that prevented it.

Not the police bottlenecking the only road into the airport. Not the nice lady making sure my liquids were in the right containers. Not the german shepherd sniffing my boy parts.

It was luck.

And if you’re like me – that scared the crap out of you. You probably wanted assurances. What will be done to prevent this? How are we reacting?

If you’re like me, you’re not looking for Attorney General Eric Holder, or Representative Pete King to be telling you how it could have been worse or how it will be managed.

When the nation is attacked, I expect to be informed and hopefully calmed by the President of the United States.

So I ask, one more time – of this President who understands that how a message is delivered is just as important as what the message is – What is wrong with this picture?

Yes, the President deserves a vacation. Especially this President, who I believe has worked so hard on issues he cares about to the best of his ability; who is attacked and stalled by enemies for every attempt to fix every ill he inherited over the last eight years.

This is a man who needs a break.

But that vacation should have been over moments after the plane landed at noon on Christmas day, and everybody was starting to do the math that once again, Al Qaida tried to strike at this country.

This is no “My Pet Goat,” or sharing birthday cake with John McCain while New Orleans flooded. But it’s close enough that it’s making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up… and I like this President.

On the one hand, it is slightly gratifying to see some on the Left applying the same standards to Obama as they did Bush.  Foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds but there’s at least some honor in it.  On the other, Bush and Obama both displayed the right initial instinct in not immediately rushing to a microphone.

Despite the insistence of a ponytailed questioner during the 1992 debates, the president is not, in fact, our national daddy.  It’s not his job to go on TV and assure us that everything will be all right every time something mildly scary happens.  Indeed, in Obama’s case, it would be better if he did less of it than he does.

The attempted bombing now looks to be more serious than it first appeared.  But it wasn’t another 9/11.   Neither thousands of lives nor the heart of a major city were at stake.

It’s a president’s job in the aftermath of these attacks to light a fire under his top people to make sure we get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible and make sure we’re taking appropriate security measures.  There’s no reason to presume he’s not doing that; all presidents have, after all.  Indeed, TSA has already overreacted, enacting ridiculous new regulations; one hopes the president countermands this in the near future, once the dust has settled.

Otherwise, though, Obama is doing what we should all do:  Carry on with life as usual.  We’ve now been in Threat Level Orange at airports for so long it’s hard to recall when it was otherwise.  The remote threat of being killed by terrorists is something that we’re all vaguely aware of but, otherwise, it’s just background noise while we’re removing our shoes and putting our laptops in a separate tray.  Given that we’re still more likely to die in a car accident on the way to and from the airport, that’s probably how it should be.

FILED UNDER: Policing, Terrorism, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Shade Tail says:

    Oh for goodness sake. Someone change Steve Marmel’s diaper and give him his bottle.

    This attempted terrorist attack was a joke. The man literally neutered himself and was restrained quite easily by other passengers. On top of that, it was an international flight so the TSA couldn’t have stopped this even if they weren’t incompetent cretins. And as icing on the cake, this man was traveling with a visa he got *from the Bush administration*.

    Why are there so many people in America who wet their pants with fear over the smallest, stupidest things? And why are these people allowed to trade away our Constitutional rights just because they are such blithering cowards?

  2. JVB says:

    Well, Obama’s image is still in tact and Katie Couric has already established his grit in her interview on being a ‘confident’ President when she cooed; “do you ever wake up in the morning and say ‘damn, this is hard.’?”. I’m sure she wasn’t referring to his morning erection, but it demonstrates clearly that Katie lost objectivity in the giant shadow cast by Big Daddy, and has never gotten it back. Obama can’t let any one see him sweat unless it’s on the court. However, for someone who has made such an effort in creating the notion that Big Government is, indeed, the National Daddy everyone needs, it’s ironic that when the children need their Daddy most, he books it to the gym or escapes to the golf course, leaving the children feeling insecure and unattended. Experts would define this kind of relationship as dysfunctional, but then they remember it’s Obama and quickly rewrite the profile. The people want to know why Big Daddy would push so hard to make them totally dependent on him and then not be there to do what he claims only the government can do for them….everything. He started it. Bad Daddy.

  3. I’m a lot more scared getting on the 405 every day than I am getting on a plane. If the TSA wants to reassure me maybe they could do something about people who drive while texting or applying make-up. If I get killed I doubt it’ll be by Al Qaeda. It’ll be some douche on a Blackberry.

  4. Shade Tail says:

    “it’s ironic that when the children need their Daddy most”

    Oh give me a break. Maybe you need him most when an incompetent boob burns his own nuts off on a plane, but the rest of us are made of sterner stuff.

    On the other hand, when I come down with cancer and my insurance company arbitrarily decides to cancel the policy I’ve been paying for, I really wouldn’t mind if the government stepped in and stopped them from making me their latest “murder by spreadsheet” victim.

    Quite interesting, the priorities you right-wingers have.

  5. Jengis Con says:

    Obama bugs me. Sorry. Save the pics of his pecs (yuck). Don’t care how cute his puppy is. Don’t wanna see him on Leno (don’t watch Letterman). He’s a phony. He’s a fake. Terrorist gunman starts spraying rounds at Ft. Hood and Bam gives shouts out before he puts on the serious face. (crickets chirping.) WTF? This 12/25 terrorist may have burned his b@lls off, but my bro is sweating his off in Iraq. This prez has overexposed himself and underexposed what really matters. Millions of Americans aren’t golfing, they’re standing in line at the unemployment office cuz Bam botched the Stimulus. So, James, you were an Army officer…pogue or Combat Arms?

  6. James Joyner says:

    So, James, you were an Army officer…pogue or Combat Arms?

    Combat arms (artillery). I’m not what you’d call a big fan of Obama. But I’m not sure what more he should have done in this case. Or about unemployment, for that matter.

  7. anjin-san says:

    they’re standing in line at the unemployment office cuz Bam botched the Stimulus. Bush left office with the economy in ruins.

    Fixed that for you. Don’t blame the damage control team because the ship took a bunch of torpedos while the captain sat there with a blank look on his face and his thumb up his ass.

  8. Dodd says:

    I’m not exactly prone to giving Obama a pass for his screw-ups. But I just can’t get myself worked up over this.

  9. Larry Strowbridge says:

    The whole idea of conservatism is a well informed citizenry that can take care of itself (Read: less government nurse maids). The system worked. The govt. and the airlines have appropriately raised the security bar post 911 and soldier citizens, which we all are, have become active in their own defense. Hats off to the passengers for security activism. Hats off to the Prez for not overreacting. The real victory for terrorism is for the victims to live in fear.

  10. tom p says:

    via ann laurie at balloon juice: Nate silver puts it all in perspective.

    Sleep tight all you “panty waist bed wetters”!!!

    I fart in your general direction!(especially during the next thunderstorm)

  11. On the one hand, it is slightly gratifying to see some on the Left applying the same standards to Obama as they did Bush.

    Actually it’s far worse than this. Someone who failed to blow up his shorts does not equal a plot that successfully attacked the Pentagon, evacuated the Whitehouse, killed thousands in NY, and caused that whole muddled chain of events geared toward a “fire” command for US fighters on a US commercial aircraft.

    Remember, before the Pennsylvania passengers “rolled,” they were trying to get a military jet with shoot orders on-line.

    For that you would let the President read?