Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Warrantless Blogtapping Program

BLOG UNDER SURVEILLANCE: Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish
Issue: Andrew Sullivan's Over-the-Top Criticism of Obama for Obama's Response to the Undie-Bomber Incident

Andrew Sullivan comes down hard on Obama for not immediately firing anyone for the Undie-Bomber incident. I admire and respect Andrew Sullivan, and think he's the best national blogger out there; but I think he's way over-reacting here. So, I wrote him a letter. This is what I said:

Dear Andrew - I can understand your anger at Obama's unwillingness to fire anyone because of the Undie-Bomber incident. Fire anyone at this moment, that is. I think you need to cut Obama some slack here. Think about it. Not only is it true that Obama has recognized the failure and has personally accepted responsibility for it, but it is also equally true that he has not left his subordinates completely off the hook. What you failed to print from Obama's remarks were the two sentences in the paragraph directly preceding that particular quip you noted. These sentences read: "All of these agencies -- and their leaders -- are responsible for implementing these reforms. And all will be held accountable if they don't." Seems to me that Obama is forcefully and unambiguously telling his subordinates that they screwed up, that he's taking it on the chin for them, and yet he's willing to give them the benefit of the doubt to get it right the next time or they're gone -- no ifs, ands, or buts. Think about it, Andrew. I know there is no margin for error with these kinds of things; but a leader that affords a second chance is the kind of person I would want to work for. The kind of person that can make government more effective. Furthermore, not only would I want to work for such a person, but I'd try to go above and beyond not to fail again and wouldn't hold any grudge if I did fail again and got axed. A cut-throat blood-letting that you seem to expect would simply ossify inefficiencies and prevent innovations out of fear of reprisal. Even though we are dealing with a situation where mistakes just can't be made, it is important to remember that we are, and always will be, still dealing with fallible people. I believe it would be the same regardless of who is in power or how competent are the people responsible for such things. Even the best of us slip now and again. Obama is not protecting "big brother." He is simply being someting bigger, and better, than "the decider."
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan posts a letter from another reader that basically captures the sentiments of my letter, but Sullivan still refuses to back down in his criticism.

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