Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Daily Strike-1/7/10-My Responsibility

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Only a few days until Session II of the 111th Congress begins.

TERRORISM: President Obama today made remarks in which he took responsibility for the failures that led to the Christmas Day terror incident. It was a classic "Buck Stops With Me" speech, in which the President takes responsibility for being the President when something bad happens. It's not that the President thinks that he is responsible for the breakdowns in the intelligence community, but rather he wants the American people to know that he's in charge, that he gets it.

The President started the speech with a subtle rebuke to former Vice President Cheney, when he stated unequivocally that we are at war. He then outlined the intelligence failures in detail. Intelligence agencies knew about the suspect's radical past, but did not "connect the dots" in a way that would keep the suspect off of the vaunted no-fly list. The President also announced what he plans to do to rectify the situation. He will order his top terrorism advisor to find new ways to expedite putting terrorists on no-fly lists, and he asked the Secretary of Homeland Security to speed up the implementation of full body scanners at international airports.

Today's speech may have seem somewhat belated and contrived, but I don't ever remember George W. Bush taking responsibility for any lapses in intelligence. Not with 9/11, not with Richard Reid the shoe bomber, not ever. Also, George W. Bush would never have released any sort of negative internal review.

MASS-SENATE: We talked the other day about the upcoming special Senate election in Massachussetts to choose Ted Kennedy's successor. A recent Rasmussen poll showed the Democrat Martha Coakley beating the Republican Scott Brown by 9 points. This relatively small margin in such a liberal state caused the Cook Political Report to shift the seat from "Solid Democrat" to "Lean Democrat." I still think Coakley will win in the Bay State, but I can understand the freakout of Democrats if the nightmare scenario comes to pass: Ted Kennedy's replacement kills health reform. Friend of the blog KagroX reminded us today, though, that the Democrats have already passed a health care bill. If Brown was elected, and Democrats only had 59 votes, the Senate likely would not be able to pass health reform again. Luckily, they wouldn't have to. The House could simply vote to accept the Senate bill verbatim. House leaders should keep this option in the back of their brains regardless of who wins the Massachusetts race. With people like Lieberman and Nelson, there's always a chance that moderate Democrats could seek to make the Senate bill even worse than it already is. If the House agreed to what the Senate has already done, a bill could be sent directly to Barack Obama's desk.

I hope that the House and Senate bills can be reconciled, because I believe several House provisions should be included in the final version of the bill. But it never hurts to have a backup plan.

That's it for now. See you tomorrow.

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