President Obama called the botched bombing attempt of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day a “catastrophic breach of security,” opening up investigations into the TSA’s air traveler screening network and FBI’s terror watch list. The president’s stern remarks were made in Hawaii during a family vacation, amid much criticism from Republicans for his administration’s mishandling of the foiled terror plot.
Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the 23-year-old son of a prominent Nigerian banker who has reported links to al-Qaeda, was carrying 80 grams of a super explosive in his underwear aboard Northwest Flight 253 that went undetected. He fumbled detonation and was immediately subdued by passengers and crew before the attack could be fully carried out. Mutallab wasn’t allowed to fly into Great Britain because of his terrorist links and it’s still unclear why he was even able to board a U.S. flight.
Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano started the media frenzy when she initially praised ‘the system’ for working smoothly, but later backtracked from her original remarks saying they were taken out of context and that the system did not work in this instance.
Republican Reps. Pete Hoekstra (Michigan) and Peter King (NY) were quick to politicize President Obama’s response to the failed Christmas Day bombing. A sharp contrast to when Democrats remained silent about former President Bush not making any public remarks for days about Richard Reid (a.k.a. the shoe bomber). Ironically, Mr. Bush also was on holiday when the incident occurred. Why are politics at play here?
Terrorism and national security issues always have united both parties. Republicans have used Northwest Flight 253 to yet again, further distance themselves from President Obama and the Democratic Party. The GOP must find its identity in 2010. Following an “anti-Obama” agenda will only hurt Republicans in next year’s mid-term elections. One suggestion might be to rally around Abraham Lincoln, who literally built the GOP into a national powerhouse. Leveraging Lincoln might just be the spark the Republican Party needs right now. Otherwise, continuing to knock healthcare legislation and the economic stimulus will only further distance the GOP from its own constituency and the general electorate.