David Broder: Bumbled Terror Attack Showed Napolitano's Competence and 'Almost Unlimited' Potential
An airplane didn’t explode over Detroit because the Islamic jihadi was incompetent. But Washington Post columnist David Broder decided he would start the New Year by making a fool of himself. He suggested on Friday that the incident showed Janet Napolitano’s excellence. The headline read "Napolitano’s ‘no drama’ competence shows her potential."
Does Broder think he’s writing for The Onion?
Most Americans got their first "prolonged look" at Napolitano in the aftermath of the bumbled terrorist attack, he wrote. That’s true enough. But then she went on the Sunday shows and bizarrely claimed "The system worked," which any truly skeptical journalist would see as embarrassing spin. But it was Broder who followed with embarrassing spin:
It came as no surprise to anyone who knows her that Napolitano handled the incident and its aftermath with aplomb. In the years I have known her, she has managed every challenge that has come her way with the same calm command that she showed in this instance. If there is anyone in the administration who embodies President Obama's preference for quiet competence with "no drama," it is Janet Napolitano.
I watched as she made the rounds of the morning interview programs on Sunday, laying out what she knew about the would-be terrorist and carefully refusing to speculate about the many matters that were still being investigated. She is being criticized for saying "the system worked," but her part of the response system did work.
Broder made it clear that in meeting Napolitano and talking to her over the years, she had him at hello:
She soon became one of my favorite pols in either party. I saw her mainly at the semiannual meetings of the National Governors Association, where she won a warm welcome on both sides, and occasionally on reporting trips to Arizona.
Broder was impressed that she had the savvy to endorse Obama early – despite his insistence in this column that she’s in some sensible center of the spectrum – and was impressed with her handling of the Democratic platform in 2008, "a potentially tricky chore that she pulled off without a bobble." (That might be a "tricky chore" if reporters ever covered the Democratic platform as the slightest bit extreme or controversial.)
Broder suggests that Napolitano's potential is "almost unlimited" -- meaning she could be president, or a Supreme Court justice, or maybe secretary-general of the United Nations:
The Obama Cabinet is filled with talents, but many of the stars are of an age or temperament unlikely to turn them into successor candidates. Napolitano will face many substantive tests -- not just in dealing with terrorism but in playing an important role in immigration reform -- before she is a candidate for anything. But her potential is almost unlimited.
After Napolitano's embarrassing job as a Sunday spinner, Broder didn't attempt a whitewash. He gave a tongue bath.