Friday, May 13, 2005

My Pet Goat, Part II?

My friend Dale Miller sent this link to an Editor & Publisher transcript of Wednesday's White House press briefing. In it, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan defends the decision not to inform President Bush of the Cessna flying dangerously close to the White House until 36 minutes after the all-clear had been sent. It's worth a read, especially since this is a president who likes to cultivate an image as a take charge, hands-on commander-in-chief. But, as Dale noted in an e-mail to me, "You would think that after Fahrenheit 9/11 they would bend over backwards not to let this happen again."

For me, however, this is yet another example of how party issue advantages operate. To this point, there is virtually no flap over this aspect of the incident. But image that John Kerry had been in the White House. Now imagine that he was RIDING A BIKE while a mysterious plane entered restricted airspace and he just continued riding that bike while much of D.C. was evacuated, his wife was taken to a secure location, the decision of whether or not to shoot down the plane was made, and the all-clear was given. And then he rode for 36 more minutes without any knowledge of what was transpiring! Does anyone doubt that President Kerry would be skewered over this? Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Tom Delay would have a field day. You can hear the talking point now - The elitist John Kerry riding a $3100 mountain bike [the reported cost of President Bush's bike] while D.C. fears an attack.

Perceptions of party strength give both parties the benefit of the doubt on the issues they "own." So Bush isn't viewed as derelict; rather, he's got security so much under his control that he can leave the decisions to someone else.

8 Comments:

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous JLB said...

The president, most likely, is not the final authority from whom permission is needed in order to shoot down an approaching airplane. That duty probably falls under the jurisdiction of NORTHCOM (Commander, Northern Command) – a military officer with many stars on his / her collar who is numerous miles removed from the D.C. beltway. So, whatever the president (no matter what party he is affiliated with) is doing at the time, as long as he is safely separated from the situation, is irrelevant. I doubt a President Kerry would have been "skewered over this". Anyone with more than 10 minutes of military service can figure this one out.

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Stephen Medvic said...

The real lines of authority of irrelevant to the political reactions that occur over things like this.

 
At 5:48 PM, Anonymous JLB said...

Are they political reactions or media reactions? Or have we reached a point where the media now dictates what is and is not a political reaction?

Newsweek's recent erroneous report should serve as a caution to all media-based political pundits of how dangerous it can be to our country and its relationship with the rest of the world to offer half-truths or conspiracy theories without first gathering (and confirming) all the facts.

 
At 5:52 PM, Anonymous DEM said...

If anything should teach us "how dangerous it can be to our country and its relationship with the rest of the world to offer half-truths or conspiracy theories without first gathering (and confirming) all the facts," surely it is the "phantom menace" of Iraqi WMDs.

That aside, I think we all understand that Bush's approval isn't needed for a shootdown. As a reporter points out in the transcript, though, that is different from saying that he can't be involved in the decision-making if he is available. Suppose that it wasn't feasible for him to do anything in this case. Even so, it just seems natural that the President would at least be informed of a terrorist threat against the capitol, especially one that put his family at risk. The fact that didn't happen here makes Bush look very passive and unengaged... or at least it makes it look as if he is perceived as passive and unengaged by a lot of people in a position to observe him.

 
At 12:27 PM, Anonymous ReaganRepublican said...

On the Hustings quote (snip): "It's worth a read, especially since this is a president who likes to cultivate an image as a take charge, hands-on commander-in-chief."

Image? Liberal Americans still don't get it. True leaders actually are the "real deal", and do not view every action (or inaction) through the prism of politics.

Now, if "Hustings" would concentrate on discovering why approximately half of all voting Americans feel traditional American culture is undesirable, we may be able to solve one of America's greatest mysteries!

 
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