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White House Cheat Sheet: Obama's Vigilance

Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk-Alabama container ship, right, stands alongside Frank Castellano, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge, after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia, on Sunday. (U.S. Navy)

The resolution of the Somalian pirate hostage situation on Sunday revealed a White House working actively behind the scenes to avoid the sort of disaster that could come to define the early days of President Obama's administration.

On the surface, the Obama and his senior aides were only monitoring the situation but, according to a White House official, the administration was far more engaged behind closed doors.

Obama received his first briefing on the incident just hours after returning from his eight day trip abroad on Wednesday, and over the next 48 hours received further briefings to keep him apprised of the situation. By late Friday the president had authorized "potential emergency actions" to free the ship's captain and he did so again on Saturday. By Sunday at 4 p.m., Obama was on the phone with the rescued captain congratulating him on his new-won freedom.

The president's deep involvement in the hostage situation is a recognition that seemingly small events can grow into massive crises in a matter of days, catastrophes that can do significant political damage to even the most popular of presidents.

For those who scoff, one need only look at the Branch Davidian siege of 1993 or the Terri Schiavo case in 2005 as evidence of just how much impact localized stories can have on the national political debate if they are not managed well.

Obama and his senior aides are acutely aware that one of the major reasons the American public soured on former president George W. Bush was the impression that he was simply not attentive enough to the complicated problems that crop up domestically and internationally on an almost daily basis.

That lack of attentiveness was symbolized by the Bush administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina but that was only the tipping point for a sentiment that had long dogged the former president.

All presidents -- consciously or unconsciously -- react in opposition to the man who preceded them in the office. Jimmy Carter was too pessimistic for many Americans so Ronald Reagan ran -- and won -- on a message of sunny optimism. Bill Clinton brought a moral cloud over the White House so George W. Bush promised "restore honor and dignity to the White House." And so on.

Obama's willingness to get his hands dirty in what could have been originally dismissed as a minor matter (although it grew into a national and even international story) paid off with the successful release of the captain.

It's a public relations disaster dodged -- one of many Obama will have to avoid as he seeks to retain political momentum and keep his agenda on track.

What To Watch For:

Monday's Fix Picks: Now in the left rail of the Fix too!

1. President Obama makes (another) call for global co-operation.
2. E.J. Dionne on the state of Christianity.
3. Mayor Mike running as a Republican.
4. Tax-itis afflicts many Americans (including the Fix household).
5. The White House dog: At Last.

Portman's Pot: Former Ohio Rep. Rob Portman made good on the promise of his Senate candidacy over the first three months of 2009, bringing in a total of $3 million -- likely to be among the highest totals for anyone (incumbent or challenger) in the first quarter. His total is -- slightly -- less impressive than it first appears as he moved $1.4 million from his old House account to the Senate campaign. Still, $1.7 million raised is an impressive total and, regardless of where the cash came from, it can all be used in Portman's attempt to win the seat being vacated by Sen. George Voinovich (R) next November. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher brought in just over $1 million in the quarter while Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner had yet to release her fundraising totals as of press time.

Click It!: "Saturday Night Live" brings us up to date on what Vice President Biden did in the president's absence.

NY-20 -- Murphy +35: With just one day left for military and overseas absentees ballots to be counted, venture capitalist Scott Murphy (D) holds a 35 vote edge over state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R) in the still-going special election to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). Follow all the counting -- county by county -- at the New York Board of Elections site.

Conway In, Primary On: State Attorney General Jack Conway is officially in the Democratic primary in Kentucky, setting up a terrific race against Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo for the right to face embattled Sen. Jim Bunning (R) next fall. Conway, elected as the state's top cop in 2006, announced via video -- touting his accomplishments as AG (investigating high gas prices, protecting children and the elderly). "My decision to run for the United States Senate was not an easy one," said Conway. "As the Bible says 'To whom much is given, much is expected.'" The Senate bid will be Conway's second federal race in the last eight years. In 2002, he narrowly lost a race for the 3rd district, which is based in and around Louisville, to then Rep. Anne Northup (R). Mongiardo, too, has run once before federally -- barely losing an upset bid against Bunning in 2004. With Mongiardo and Conway now in the race, it remains to be seen whether Rep. Ben Chandler or state Auditor Crit Luallen will also jump into the Democratic primary. Conventional wisdom suggested that only one of three would run against Mongiardo. Time will tell if that is right.

Did We Mention?: Our list of the best political blog(s) in each state is now a permanent link on the Fix homepage. Today's recommendation? "The Shad Plank," the Daily Press' (Va.) blog named in honor of one of the great political food experiences ever. The 2009 Shad Planking, by the way, comes around this Wednesday.

Say What?: "I don't think he was being bombastic." -- Former White House press secretary Dana Perino, during an interview with CNN's John King on Sunday, on former vice president Dick Cheney's comment that the Obama administration had made America less safe.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 13, 2009; 5:42 AM ET
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For Bush voters, Obama is such exquisite torture. You can see it in their postings. Thinly veiled racism smothered in agony.
Each of his successes stings like a whiplash. Each of his failures gives them new false hope. Four more years. Enjoy!

Posted by: seemstome | April 14, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

"Jimmy Carter was too pessimistic for many Americans so Ronald Reagan ran -- and won -- on a message of sunny optimism. Bill Clinton brought a moral cloud over the White House so George W. Bush promised to 'restore honor and dignity to the White House.' And so on."

"And so on"?

"And so on"?!

Really, Chris? You just yada yada yada-ed the last 8 years?

The worst part is that the "And so on" is so lazy and cowardly in terms of writing. The quote starts with a stereotypical smack on the pinata of Democratic presidents, and it ends with a right-wing slap-shot at Clinton. Another sentence would have required the writer to neatly summarize why the election of the current Democratic president was also a significant socio-cultural reaction to the previous administration.

Not surprisingly, it would also result in acknowledging that Republicans don't have the monopoly on optimism.

And so on.

Posted by: KobayashiMaru | April 13, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

He just keeps on winning...

Posted by: svreader | April 13, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The Bushie nutjobs seem to be biting their own tongues off over this one! President Obama handled this crisis calmly, without fanfare (from him), and stayed out of the military's way (like Bush and Cheney could NOT).

Don't panic folks...this is how a President is SUPPOSED to handle America's business. I realize its been a while...seems young President Obama catches on quick...

Oh and don't hold your breath for him to don flight suit and land on a carrier behind a "mission accomplished" banner. He's already moved on to solve the next problem.

Posted by: free-donny | April 13, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that anyone excuses the total wimpish response of G. W. Bush to the devastating Katrina aftermath. Amazing that any compassionate person could assume that the his statement to Michael Brown, Director of FEMA was so congratulatory. Listen for yourself and see how you feel when you read this comment, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job". Imagine being so tone deaf and lacking such insight by any President, but alas, G. W. did it and wondered what all the fuss was when folks found his level of concern to be so monstrous.

Posted by: mari2JJ | April 13, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe it, I am outraged, I demand my Barry Soetoro campaign donation be refunded. He is a FRAUD. He promised, he criticized it, he called it illegal, he..he campaigned against it, good lord! He lied! He is doing the exact same thing that EVIL President Bush did. He is tapping my phone, my emails, he is violating my Constitutional rights. I am very, very upset by this. I demand he be impeached for these highly criminal actions. Everybody, together in the spirit of the great Code Pink that us Libs so admire...chant with me. IMPEACH BARRY, IMPEACH BARRY!...Come on Everybody...IMPEACH BARRY......hey were did all my "progressive" comrades go?

Posted by: FraudObama | April 13, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I think Chris should just get a job as press secretary for Obama and stop pretending he is a journalist.

Comparing the hostage incident to Katrina is absurd. For one thing, Bush had to deal with a major weather event in which hundreds of thousands of people were effected. And he was expected to rescue, feed and move those people in less time than it took for Barack Obama to acknowledge and deal with a situation in which a large contingent of the US Navy was facing off with 4 pirates. And even then he waited days and only responded when asked to by the people on the scene and even then the order stated the Captain had to be in imminent danger before action could be taken. Well, duh. I would hope that they would not just watch them kill the man.

As usual Obama's supporters have found a way to use someone else's courage and skill to make Obama look good, while at the same time taking a gratuitous slap at Bush.

If you want to know if Bush was actually involved in the day to day running of the country during his tenure..look at the before and after pictures. They tell you all you need to know.

Posted by: thugentober | April 13, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

"Well, the governor was given the boot. Also, the vast majority of the country have no say in who runs Louisiana or New Orleans."

Yes, the Democratic governor was replaced by a Republican, but Nagin is still mayor of New Orleans. Takes a while for the machine to die. And glad that you pointed out the "vast majority of the country" has no say in running LA or New Orleans. Presumably, that includes the federal government, specifically the executive branch.

Posted by: judithod | April 13, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA 2012! OBAMA 2012! OBAMA 2012!

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | April 13, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | April 13, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Congradulations to President OBAMA and the Navy for making this happen. I have to admit OBAMA is doing a Great Job! I am sure the Republicans will try to find some else to whine about. The Republicans are dead!RIP

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | April 13, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

i guess Somalia is vowing revenge....

now --where's the UN again?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 13, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse


The Egyptian navy is tiny, mostly coastal patrol boats. I think they have a couple of DEs (Knox class) they got from the US after they were decommissioned in the '70s (early '80s?). But not enough to even help out patrolling that area of the Indian Ocean.

Glad those SEALs are on our side.

Posted by: mnteng | April 13, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Newbeeboy is a coward whose total military service is limited to watching every war on cable tv.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 13, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

how bout you, newbeeboy? you'll be volunteering to invade somalia, right? after all, you've obviously got LOTS of time on your hands.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

well, the "pirates" did accomplish a "grave breach"---which is covered by the Geneva Conventions -

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 13, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Time to invade Somalia... ask the friendly Nato nations if they could spare a couple of dozen guy in hairnets.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 13, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Convoys sounds like a really good idea, mark. Travel in groups. Has worked out pretty well for mammals, traditionally.

Also, i have no problem with using whatever force is necessary to repel them. If they are trying to take a ship they are thieves and potential murderers and must be treated as such. If they approach in a threatening fashion and don't heed clear warnings, I don't see a choice but to blow them away.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I now know there is a purpose to the blog.. at least I can still learn.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 13, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

drindl, here is one appropriate response to John Bolton.


Historically, threatened merchant mariners took up arms against pirates, and also formed "friendly" convoys. There is no reason for the navies of the world to do more than they are doing, right now. Convoying around the Horn would allow fewer naval cutters and DEs to cover more merchant vessels, and if the merchant mariners had vessel mounted .50s and sidearms the threat would be minimalized.

I note that some Asia-Europe shipping is now avoiding the Suez Canal toll by routing around the Cape of Good Hope. Assuming $700k per ship toll at Suez, Egypt has the biggest stake in this. Do they have cutters and DEs?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 13, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

very good point...

for all those Obama haters out there.

guess we do have a Mission Accomplished, no?
dramatically different than the Bush proposed one.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 13, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"The right wing rump would have blamed Obama if something had happened to the Captain, and now that the guy was rescued, they are all "don't give credit to Obama, it was the Navy Seals who get all the credit!"."

Perhaps they would credit the President were he to strip to his skivvies & swim alone to the lifeboat, armed only with a bowie knife clenched in his teeth - singlehandedly dispatching the three ne'er-do-wells in close combat.

Or maybe he should have followed President Jumpsuit's lead & ridden shotgun on a rescue flight, in order to be personally onhand to proudly declare "Mission Accomplished."

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 13, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

All you needed to do was watch Fox for the past few days to see who was turning this into a giant "test" for the Obama Administration. The right wing rump would have blamed Obama if something had happened to the Captain, and now that the guy was rescued, they are all "don't give credit to Obama, it was the Navy Seals who get all the credit!". This should not have been made into a 'Political Test" in the first place but since the wingnuts decided to do it, they are the ones looking like total idiots right now.

Posted by: marSF | April 13, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

where's the UN?
america doesn't have to stop these pirates.
let's see, that would be war number three, no?

no one is mentioning the draft.
scary subject.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 13, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

and we kknew this was coming...any situation, the neocon answer is war.

got a toothache? send in the troops!

of course, no mention of who will pay for it or where the troops will come from since our military was broken by the last administration...

anyone calling for military action should also call for tax increases to pay for it.

"Yesterday, the Navy Seals launched a daring and successful effort to free the American cargo ship captain who had been held hostage by Somali pirates for five days, killing three pirates. Throughout last week, some conservatives used the hostage situation to lobby for military action and massive defense spending on irrelevant weapons.

At the forefront of the calls for war was, unsurprisingly, former U.N. Ambassador and perpetual war-monger John Bolton. Even after the successful rescue of the American hostage, Bolton endorsed a ground invasion of Somalia this morning on Fox News:

FOX HOST: Ambassador, if you were serving in this administration, would it be your recommendation that they go in to, militarily with air strikes and/or boots on the ground, into these so-called feral cities, where these pirates are taking hold? Should we go in and take those people out, and take their installations out, now, militarily? Is that what you’re suggesting?

BOLTON: Yes. … Unless we go in and really end this problem once and for all, we will simply see it grow over time."

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

President Obama had his finger on the pulse of this situation.
I am continuously amazed how people still want to degrade this President.
I can only assume that these people who CONTINUOUSLY degrade him are prejudice.
Died in the wool prejudice.
He did another wonderful job.
And some just can't take it, can they?
Best get used to it.
We have a smart, wise and kindly President.

We, the public, didn't need to know about the behind closed doors stuff.
The Press doesn't need to know about the behind closed doors stuff either.

Next, you'll want to know what he has for breakfast so you can gripe and groan about his cholesterol and the EXAMPLE he is setting. Criminey sakes.
No smoke and a pancake for the Prez. He'll get raked over the coals in the press and in your living room for it.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 13, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"And if you're going to bring up a completely unrelated incident, Hurricane Katrina, perhaps you also should examine the failures of the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana to have in place or to enact any emergency plans, particularly when they had been warned of the hurricane. Quit bringing Bush into the equation. Obama has to stand or fall alone."

Well, the governor was given the boot. Also, the vast majority of the country have no say in who runs Louisiana or New Orleans.

And you know, Katrina wasn't exactly the first time that Bush screwed up.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 13, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Chandler and Luallen will definitely not be entering the Kentucky United States Senate race. The two of them plus Conway are close politically. Before today, Conway's campaign noted that Chandler, Luallen, Congressman Yarmuth, and former Kentucky Attorney General and current State House Speaker Greg Stumbo will stand alongside Conway at his Senate kickoff press conference today.

Posted by: madoug | April 13, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, this will silence those right-wing morons who get their inspiration from Limbaugh, Hannity, and G.I. Joe comic books when they complained about Obama not publicly commenting on the hostage situation, thereby assuming that the White House did not give a damn and that the U.S. did not plan to take aggressive action to rescue Captain Phillips.

And to those that complain about the rescue occurring after a 5-day standoff, get used to it. Obama does not share the "shoot from the hip", "John Wayne" cowboy mentality of his predecessor. The plan obviously was well planned with multiple contingencies and required time to get key personnel on the scene. The proof of the plan's soundness is in the results. Phillips was rescued UNHARMED!

But I forgot...you right-wing clowns WANT the President to fail...

Posted by: labman57 | April 13, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

our military is funded
read HR 1 and the budget.....

we have to fund --what---24,000 troops to afghanistan

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 13, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"Deep involvement" of Obama? He was busy introducing Bo the dog and attending a dinner party at Valerie's. Let's be clear. As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Obama was asked for and gave the authorization for "potential emergency actions" to free the ship's captain. Any president would have done the same. To contrast Obama's "deep involvement" with the "impression" that Bush was "simply not attentive enough" is pure hyperbole. And if you're going to bring up a completely unrelated incident, Hurricane Katrina, perhaps you also should examine the failures of the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana to have in place or to enact any emergency plans, particularly when they had been warned of the hurricane. Quit bringing Bush into the equation. Obama has to stand or fall alone.

Posted by: judithod | April 13, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"As I have argued before, piracy and terrorism are so similar that the model for anti-terrorism laws should be the piracy laws, not Geneva."

I've seen a couple articles lately that have noted Geneva deals with piracy. The inference is that pirates do not rise to the level of enemy military - and can be dealt with by ship crews the way texans can deal with home invaders.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 13, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"Ironically, the Democratic Party - led by President Obama is seeking to cut the funding for the Military."

What's your source for this? I mean, everyone who knows even a fraction of what they're talking about knows that you're completely incorrect when you say this (which brings doubt upon the veracity of antyhing in your post). That said, I would LOVE to take a look at the source(s) you are using to make a statement like this.

Do you have a link showing me that the "Democratic Party - Lead by President Obama is seeking to cut fundign for the military?"

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 13, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"but I doubt anyone would blame the President or the Seals for a tactical failure."

You're kidding, right? There are people, in this thread even, who are trying to "blame" the president for this tactical success!

Had something happened that got that capitan killed, the *exact same* people who are saying "This was all the Navy, the President deserves no credit" would be HOWLING at the presidents ineptitude and mis-handling of the situation.

If you try to kid yourself otherwise, you overestimate your fellow posters/Americans.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 13, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"Ironically, the Democratic Party - led by President Obama is seeking to cut the funding for the Military."

More wingnut lies. Obama is cutting the budget for OBSOLETE and useless hardware boondoggles and RAISING the budget for the military. Please stop the lies.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"The breeding ground of one of these plagues is the same as the breeding ground of the other and we may find that rooting out pirates is in our national interest because it also roots out political terrorists."

was not in any way refuting your comment-- i agree, only add that it needs to be done, in so far as possible, in concert with other countries to reduce reliance on US resources alone.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Obama's Vigilance?


Mr. Cillizza should really think about working officially for the Democratic Party, and stop the pretend game of being involved with 'journalism'.

Does he remember a Democratic Party ran LA so negligently they were unprepared for the Katrina Hurricane, and a Democrat Governor delayed the Federal Government's rescue efforts for several days?

The Navy rescued this fine Captain, nothing really to do with the current President...

"Smart Power" didn't have a clue as to what to do, and diplomacy did not free anyone, the use of force did - just like in the case of the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ironically, the Democratic Party - led by President Obama is seeking to cut the funding for the Military.

Posted by: brooklynsteel | April 13, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Folks, this was not the Cuban missile crisis. Obama did he should have done -- allow the Navy to handle it, not rush into some silly attack or bray and swagger and bluster. Quiet and measured. What I like about him.

Having said that, this was no big deal for either side to make much of.

This is an international commerce issue and we need to work with other countries to help resolve it, and not attempt to take the entire thing onto our own shoulders.

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Chris, get a hold of yourself. Any effort by the White House staff to play up this event to the President's advantage is shameful and disrespectful to the Navy. No doubt, the President was keeping up with the events, although the Seals were following standard operating procedure for engagement, which by the way was probably set in motion before the Mr. Obama devoted any attention to the crisis. Given the nature of the problem, thankfully it worked out, but I doubt anyone would blame the President or the Seals for a tactical failure. An attempt to compare this with Branch Davidian is misguided on so many levels -www.helpthemiddleclass.com.

Posted by: helpthemiddleclasscom | April 13, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

bsimon posted:

"I, for one, do not want my president spending a lot of time on what is not a national security crisis."

I agree with the statement as written, and I agree with the implication that piracy off the Horn is not now a national security issue.

BUT - As I have argued before, piracy and terrorism are so similar that the model for anti-terrorism laws should be the piracy laws, not Geneva. The similarity is that the use of non-state military level force against civilians characterizes both. The distinction of "personal" vs. "political" gain as motive does not change the similarity of design and operation. 9-11 was an air piracy operation. The breeding ground of one of these plagues is the same as the breeding ground of the other and we may find that rooting out pirates is in our national interest because it also roots out political terrorists.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 13, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Wow, does Cillizza drink the White House kool-aid or what? Dude, I hope you got a second paycheck from Obama for this latest episode of hero-worship!

Posted by: WashingtonDame | April 13, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Both sides are overplaying this episode - the wingers last week trying to find fault in the military's handling of the issue (and trying to blame Obama for it), now the inverse for the lefties crowing about the success of the administration. God forbid our military adds piracy patrol to its ever growing list of duties and world policing. I, for one, do not want my president spending a lot of time on what is not a national security crisis. I agree with the military spokesman interviewed on NPR this AM (I paraphrase): "Maybe now the merchant marine will follow our recommended practices, including hiring armed guards for their vessels when in waters known to be infested by pirates." Duh.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 13, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse


All's well that ends well. But now Team Obama should come up with a defense plan for the international waters off Somalia.

This is one case where the U.S. can and should assume the role of the world's policeman, because no other nation has the capability or, apparently, the will.


SPECIAL TO: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (staff, please forward)

Ms. Napolitano:

There is strong evidence that the regional "fusion centers" administered by your department are using surveillance of telecommunications as a pretext to harass and censor American citizens.

Are you aware of this? Please see the following article, which also contains a political essay written for a Washington Post political blog -- but which elicits a "held for blog owner" message each time I attempt to post it.

The evidence seems clear that this message is being generated NOT by The Washington Post, but by censors operating under your agency. The Washington Post could confirm this -- if your internal affairs unit would investigate. Thank you.


OR (in link is corrupted):


Posted by: scrivener50 | April 13, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"I would have to guess that the Captain doesn't consider this - just a public relations disaster dodged!!"

This is a politics blog. Stories are going to be framed in the view of political impact, because that's the purpose of this blog.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 13, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I would have to guess that the Captain doesn't consider this - just a public relations disaster dodged!! Chris, get out of the beltway prison every now and again.. there's more out here than PR an spin..

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 13, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice if, just once, we could set the politics aside and enjoy a moment of unity here. Three criminals were eliminated, and a brave man was rescued. This was a win for the good guys. Thanks Navy!

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | April 13, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Boy do I feel sorry for the media you guys are becoming like an "endangered species".

I just saw where some one from the ship was calling you guys out for wanting to print information while the captain was still held hostage...THAT'S DOPEY!!

Rupert Muldoch (?) will be the cause of the great fall. Even if those in charge don't see much of anything wrong with him owning so much news. THE PUBLIC DO AND THAT IS WHY WE ARE DECREASING MORE AND MORE IN WATCHING NEWS AND HOSTING POLITICAL NEWS SHOW...






Posted by: danson1 | April 13, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Chris, I don't like looking at the recent life-or-death pirate hostage crisis as a political or PR crisis first and a life-or-death matter second, and I don't believe for a moment that President Obama saw it that way. You may have, but you are not commander in chief.

The death of three Somali pirates and the life of a good man who put himself in harm's way to save his crew are more serious matters than your write-up would indicate. There was a way to make all the same political points you did (and wasn't the Iran hostage crisis and failed helicopter rescue in the desert the mother of all such disasters?) but it should have been done while taking a sentence to acknowledge first that there was more at stake than the popularity rating or political capital of a new president. Not your best hour.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | April 13, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

From now on whenever Cheney says that Obama is making America less safe he'll put his audience to sleep, and rightly so.

I'm anxious to see what spin Karl Rove and his friends at Fox Noise put on this one. I could use another good laugh.

Posted by: abigsam | April 13, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Now Obama has defeated pirates on the high seas Can Bush/McCain say that?

In all seriousness, this is a major political boost for the president. Thid absolutely improves his national security cred and presents at least a short-term challenge for critics.


Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 13, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

margararetmeyers -- there are people who want nothing to but for obama to fail, no matter what, you are right about that. it's sad but true that they care far more about their ideology than their country and 'patriotism' is the furthest thing from their minds.

and 'sagereader' -- before you talk about gullibility, didn't yo vote for George Wl bush?

Posted by: drindl | April 13, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to journalistic independence? You write like you're a cheerleader for the president.

Make a late New Year's pledge:
I shall not be so gullible in the future.
I shall not be so gullible in the future.
I shall not be so gullible in the future.

Posted by: sagereader | April 13, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

NYT description:

Two of the captors had poked their heads out of a rear hatch of the lifeboat, exposing themselves to clear shots, and the third could be seen through a window in the bow, pointing an automatic rifle at the captain, who was tied up inside the 18-foot lifeboat, senior Navy officials said.

It took only three remarkable shots — one each by snipers firing from a distance at dusk, using night-vision scopes, the officials said.
vbhoomes, apparently until the SEALS got there on Saturday night Bainbridge did not have night vision snipers - that would probably be the usual, I think. That does not explain the failure to blow the lifeboat out of the water when the captain tried his escape, but it does make it possible to imagine an explanation that does not amount to their being asleep at the switch. They may not have had sufficient "night vision" to know if the captain was a safe distance from the lifeboat, for example.
That the Prez did not micromanage this situation is a good omen, but "Obama's willingness to get his hands dirty..." overstates his involvement according to your own story, IMHO.
margaretmeyers, you should know that KOZ already congratulated the Prez on the previous thread and did not take any cheap shots.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 13, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I was so upset by many of your, er, Conser-va-tive bloggers on this incident late last week. It is amazing to me that these bloggers, who probably think of themselves as patriots who love their country, were posting here begging for the “Obambi” to fail, and if that fine Captain happened to be killed, too bad but it *would* prove their point, and that’s what counts in their world.

Rush Limbaugh is not the only small-minded, noisy idiot on the right, and Obama has proved that holding your tongue and taking the time to work all the channels available is the intelligent way to handle situations like this.

Bushie would have barked and rushed us another war for young Americans to fight. I cannot wait to see how Rush and some of your bloggers spin this today.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | April 13, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

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