THE APPLES-TO-APPLES COMPARISON…. Karl Rove pried himself away from his divorce attorney yesterday, just long enough to show up on Fox News to condemn President Obama for waiting three days before commenting publicly on the failed Abdulmutallab plot. Rove added that he was outraged that White House officials “couldn’t bother to interrupt [the president’s] vacation.”
Eight years ago, a terrorist bomber’s attempt to blow up a transatlantic airliner was thwarted by a group of passengers, an incident that revealed some gaping holes in airline security just a few months after the attacks of September 11. But it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks about the so-called “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate.
It’s rare to get such a perfect apples-to-apples comparison. Reid and Abdulmutallab used the same chemical, the same target, the same intended consequence, in same month of the year, with the same twisted ideology. Reid’s attempt happened when Bush was away from the White House; Abdulmutallab’s attempt happened when Obama was away from the White House.
Any fair evaluation makes clear that the Obama team’s response was faster, more thorough, and offered more depth.
While the Obama White House issued a background statement through a senior administration official calling the incident an “attempted terrorist attack” on the same day it took place, the early official statements from Bush aides did not make the same explicit statement.
Bush did not address reporters about the Reid episode until December 28, after he had traveled from Camp David to his ranch in Texas.
Democrats do not appear to have criticized Bush over the delay. Many were wary of publicly clashing with the commander-in-chief, who was getting lofty approval ratings after what appeared to be a successful military campaign in Afghanistan. The media also seemed to have little interest in pressing Bush about the bombing, or the fact that the incident had revealed a previously unknown vulnerability in airplane security — that shoes could be used to hide chemicals or explosive devices.
Here’s the kicker: while major news outlets have given Obama detractors all kinds of airtime since Friday, six days after Reid’s attempted terrorism, Bush fielded 15 questions from reporters. They asked about the then-president’s holidays plans, but asked literally zero questions about the terrorist attempt to blow up an airplane over American soil six days prior.
If Republicans and/or political reporters can explain this stunning double-standard, I’d love to hear it.