I'VE been fighting off a sore throat and cough the last three days, and arguing with my Poor Wife about whose holiday-convocated family is the source of the psycho-Nazi-elementary-school-warfare-germs hacked directly onto unprotected foodstuffs by a couthless, unmanaged, and by this point, frankly unmanageable brood one-third larger than the Monaco Olympic team (guess).
Regular readers have probably already tumbled onto the fact that my health had nothing to do with the fact that I missed the tragic appearance of Janet Napolitano on CNN's State of the Union Sunday with Candy Crowley, Substituting For John King, which, for the record, can be explained, in decreasing order of repugnance, by: 1) Candy Crowley; 2) The network that employs Candy Crowley; 3) Sunday "News" programs in general which, as recently as this past Sunday, announced they consider Newt Fucking Gingrich a "newsmaker" ("Former Speaker of the House" said the promo; "Didn't they leave out 'Disgraced'?" said my Poor Wife); 4) The idea that we need a timely explanation from the Secretary of the Biggest, Most Ill-Conceived Boondoggle of a Department Washington Could, or Ever Will, Rush Into Existence as to How, and Why, some lunatic set his pants on fire on an airplane despite the fact that we employ an entire category of individuals whose job it is to simply wait and watch for the next lunatic on an airplane story and shit bricks about it, that category being "News people", and What She's Going To Do About It.
Which job she apparently failed, and which has sparked the biggest crisis in Washington since the last time the Right went apeshit about something, which I believe was last Thursday. So I'm doubly grateful to Peter Baker for bringing me up to speed on all this.
To the list of phrases it may be best for political leaders to avoid after a major security incident, add “the system worked” right after “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Just as the public did not really share President George W. Bush’s assessment of how things were going after Hurricane Katrina, so too was there a good deal of skepticism when President Obama’s homeland security secretary declared faith in a system that failed to stop a guy who tried to blow up a passenger jet on Christmas Day.
In both instances, the statements were meant to reassure a skittish public but seemed disconnected from the reality they were describing. Even Mr. Bush ultimately concluded that Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was not in fact doing a heck of a job; Mr. Brown was soon out. And in this case, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, does not think the system worked across the board, only that it worked in terms of the response after the attempted bombing took place.
And look, I'm not even interested enough in this to look for whatever context this was taken out of, not that I don't expect one could be found, but because it Doesn't Matter. Because when someone has to dig for "there's a good deal of skepticism" to equate some Wingnut Gaffe Outrage with the Bush administration's Katrina response, that person is lying. Even if that person accidentally happens to be telling the truth.
Is this the sort of thing you went to college for, Mr. Baker? Is it the sort of government who think we deserve, and one you'd like to contribute your full measure to preserving? Is it? Government where the tiniest extemporanea uttered, or flubbed, by public officials are picked up by a group of people giving a convincing performance of half-literacy, and pummeled about the head and shoulders? And captured for YouTube? Thereby instituting a crisis?
Fuck it, this is not about Janet Napolitano, a high-rising political functionary tasked with running a bloated bureaucratic brand that owes its existence to deep political thinker Joe Lieberman, and which we'd be better off spinning back into its constituent parts. (If we could find someone fit to run the thing it would be no one we ought to give anything resembling that sort of power, not to mention that we'd wind up fifty years later with another century-and-a-half's worth of profound embarrassment on the order of the J. Edgar Hoover Building.) It's about the Press acting as though Gerald Ford whiffing on a line about Eastern Europe, or George H. W. Bush barfing on the Japanese Prime Minister, had real-world rather than sitcom-world consequences. Did Ford really not understand Soviet domination of Poland? Does Napolitano really think someone setting his pants on fire on an airliner is okeh so long as the passengers tackle him and the plane manages to land? Is that the message either was conveying?
And, goddam it, who thought "Heck of a job, Brownie" was the worst of the Katrina mess? Bush could'a said "Brownie, kiss me on the mouth, you beautiful beast" if his administration had been doing its job. The point was, first, that the public soon became aware that "Brownie" was a political hack who had as much business running FEMA as Joe the Plumber would've--and, again, which no one would have cared a fig about if the job had been done--and, second, that the benign neglect visited on Nawlins, and the rest of the Gulf, was a Republican feature, not a bug, and being cheered on the sidelines by a Starship of Jonahs. There aren't any Democrats cheering for terrorists, except in the perpetually fevered imagination; hell, you can't even get the President to keep his word on civil liberties. The only real connection between Katrina and Flaming Pantsgate is the one you're trying, and failing, to make. And again, assuming you really think all this is as serious as you say, you ought'a be the first one to volunteer to shut up about it, for the sake of Civilization Herself.