‘We will not cower in fear’

‘WE WILL NOT COWER IN FEAR’…. Four months ago, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up an airplane with chemicals hidden in his underwear, President Obama and his administration chose a deliberately low-key public response. While the authorities acted quickly and effectively behind the scenes, the president played it cool. The message was clear: no need for panic, no need to give terrorists undue attention or a symbolic victory, no need to exacerbate the situation. America is unflappable in the face of an incompetent crotch-bomber.

It was a calm, mature response … which was widely panned by Republicans and the media. How dare the president appear calm and in control?

The attempted car-bombing in Times Square is a different kind of attack, obviously, but with terrorism back on the front page again, it’s interesting to see the White House respond a little differently this time. Officials have been far more aggressive in letting reporters and the public know about the administration’s productive work on this case, as it’s happened.

This morning, the president himself spoke publicly about the status of the investigation, explaining that a suspect is in custody, and vowing that “justice will be done.” Obama also praised both the “vigilant” civilians and the effective authorities.

“[A]s Americans, and as a nation, we will not be terrorized,” he added. “We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated. We will be vigilant. We will work together. And we will protect and defend the country we love to ensure a safe and prosperous future for our people. That’s what I intend to do as president and that’s what we will do as a nation.”

There wasn’t anything unusual about any of this, but it suggests the White House is trying a different course than the one in December, not because the previous efforts were mistaken, but because maturity in the face of crisis seemed to go over much of the political world’s heads.