Maureen Dowd on WH’s handling of terrorist attack aftermath

I think she’s right. I don’t think they’re handling this well from a PR perspective. And yes, PR matters. It is important that the public feel that their leader gets it, that he’s running the show, that he knows there’s a problem, and that he is trying to fix it.

The Republican attacks against Obama over the past few days have hurt. But only because the White House hasn’t exactly done a stellar job of managing the public response to the attack. The President should have been out there on day one, he shouldn’t have gone golfing right after speaking to the nation about the attack (does no one in the White House watch old footage of Bush?), and it’s not at all clear that he should have remained on vacation in “exotic” Hawaii (again, no memory of the campaign and the “Hawaii problem”?). And the last thing the WH should have done is sent Napolitano on TV, had the WH repeat the allegation, that everything worked really well AFTER the nut got away with trying to blow up a jet. The President even defended Napolitano yesterday. He didn’t just defend the secretary, he defended her words. His staff said the President thought she was right, that the system did work well.


As Maureen Dowd would say, lose the Spock. It doesn’t matter if you’re technically correct if your words come off as creepy and aloof. After some guy who paid $3000 in cash for his ticket, didn’t check luggage, was on a terror watch list, whose own father called the US to warn that his son had become an extremist, waltzes on to a plane full of Americans and tries to blow it up – and only gets caught because some Dutch guy, not an air marshal, but a Dutch guy, jumped him, and the fairy dust in his crotch didn’t fully ignite – after all of that, there is simply no circumstance, short of presenting the public with Osama bin Laden’s head on a spit, that merits calling the day anything other than an unmitigated disaster.

It just looks bad, and whether folks like it or not, appearances matter in leadership. Just because the Republicans are trying to make hay of the entire incident doesn’t mean the White House is handling it correctly.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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