A meme is developing around President Obama that could threaten his political future. That meme, fueled by critics on the right and the left, suggests that Obama is a weakling, a spineless empty suit who is too willing to compromise, a wimp with no principles he would rather fight than defend.
It was that narrative that James Carville played into last week when he declared, “”If Hillary [Clinton] gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two.”
Bill Clinton, who knows the heart and soul of the American electorate, once famously declared, “When people are insecure, they’d rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who’s weak and right.” How much more support would they lend to a leader who is strong and right?
For all the carping from airline passengers over the intensive new security screenings, it’s time for Obama to come out and strongly defend them. Whenever administration officials suggest that they will adjust overly zealous measures, their critics think they’re backing down. So Obama and his administration ought to staunchly defend the new procedures, without equivocation, everytime they are asked about them. Politico’s Ben Smith quoted an unnamed Democratic official giving Obama some good advice:
The alternative, my correspondent notes, would have been a clear, strong message in response, something along these lines: “People tried to kill us last Christmas. I’m sorry, it sucks, but this is the world we live in.”
Obama has the American public on his side. According to new polls, a majority of people support the procedures because they know they are necessary.
Last Christmas, a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to take down an airliner over American soil with plastic explosives in his underwear. Because of the extremes that jihadists will go to in their efforts to kill Americans, the Transportation Security Administration has had to shift to measures that attempt to detect weapons and explosives hidden under clothing.
That’s why the federal official responsible for security at Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall airport tells his TSA agents that, “I want them to think Abdulmutallab with every pat-down.”
Yes, there will be carping — much of it led by rightwingers like Matt Drudge, who criticize every move Obama makes.
But what would the public reaction be if an underwear bomber successfully brought down a plane full of Americans? Panic and blame. Blaming the Obama administration for failing to keep us safe.