In a blog post published yesterday, Peggy Noonan attacks the Obama administration for incompetence -- not just for the botched Obamacare rollout, but because the president stood next to an unstable and seemingly dangerous fake interpreter at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, which is apparently the administration's fault:
My worries came home with a certain freshness after the Mandela memorial, where the United States Secret Service allowed the president of the United States to stand for 19 minutes next to the famous sign-language interpreter who, it was quickly revealed, was not only a fraud but a schizophrenic con man who is now said to have been involved in two deaths. In fairness, the event was in another country and the Secret Service wasn't strictly in charge.Um, yeah, there is that.
That said, it still looks like very basic negligence, as if no one is keeping enough of an eye on the Secret Service, no one's checking the quality of the advance or sending emails asking: "Hey, what do we know about the sign language guy -- any chance he's a mentally ill criminal?"First of all, this was done on short notice. Second, if this reflects an extraordinary level of incompetence on the part of the Obama administration, then it also reflects an extraordinary level of incompetence on the part of the governments of Brazil, India, China, Namibia, and Cuba, because speakers at the memorial service included the head of state from each of these countries, or, in the case of China, the vice president. And let's not forget the large number of other heads of state who didn't speak but attended the service. That selfie with the prime ministers of Britain and Denmark? Maybe Britain and Denmark should have vetted the interpreter, too, before letting their leaders sit in the audience.
We're talking about Peggy Noonan, of course, so eventually we get fantasies of apocalypse:
I'm worried, finally, that lines of traditionally assumed competence are being dropped. The past few weeks I can't shake from my head this picture: The man with the football -- the military aide who carries the U.S. nuclear codes, and who travels with the president -- is carrying the wrong code. He's carrying last month's code, or the one from December 2012. And there's a crisis -- a series of dots on a radar screen traveling toward the continental U.S. -- and the president is alerted. He's in the holding room at a fundraiser out west. The man with the football is called in and he fumbles around in his briefcase and gets the code but wait, the date on the code is wrong. He scrambles, remembers there's a file on his phone, but the phone ran out on the plane and he thought he could recharge in the holding room but there's no electrical outlet. All eyes turn to him. "Wait -- wait. No -- uh -- I don't think that’s the code we use to launch against incoming from North Korea, I think that one takes out Paris!"Right. She worries about this because of a botched health care rollout and Crazy-Interpreter-Gate. She somehow didn't worry about this during the administration in which 3,000 people were murdered by terrorists on one day on U.S. soil.
I have to say, I’ve never worried about this with any previous administration, ever.
In fact, 9/11 and its immediate aftermath made Noonan feel more secure in the president's leadership. Here she is on November 16, 2001:
In the early days of the current struggle he immediately understood the situation -- "We are at war" -- but did not immediately strike back. He seemed, at first, in the day after Sept. 11, to have been as shocked by history as Harry Truman -- the moon and the stars had fallen upon him. He was eight months into a new presidency, and now all the facts of the world changed. But he righted himself as Truman did, and he made his plans. There were no showy and meaningless kabooms with our missiles hitting aspirin factories in the desert. Instead Mr. Bush prepared, pushed, waited and struck -- and now the Taliban are on the run and Afghanistan is teetering on something that whatever it is will surely be better than what it had been. Al Qaeda is not done, but as Mr. Bush said again yesterday in his news conference with President Vladimir Putin, we will not rest until it is.So when Peggy Noonan expresses apocalyptic fear and tells you what aspects of the Obama administration worry her, just remember: these are the kinds of things that reassure her: bad grammar, sanctimony, "merriness," and a sense of judgment that deemed Vladimir Putin a natural ally.
It was in that remarkable news conference that Mr. Bush displayed once again in public what is reported of him in private -- that he has an instinctive command in his private dealings, a way of appealing to his guests with a well-meaning warmth that is both ingenuous and ... yet another little weapon in the Bush armory, an armory whose job it is to provide him with what he needs to get what he wants. In this case and for some time now what he wants has been a personal bond with President Putin that both reflects and promotes a new and deep alliance between America and Russia....
Mr. Bush was at his best, and I realized there is a way you can tell that he is and knows he is in full command. He signals it by talking the way he talks; that is, he signals it through bad grammar, or if you will highly colloquial usage.
When Mr. Bush is uncomfortable or being formal he says, "The tax structure in Russia is exemplary in many ways." When Mr. Bush is in full command he says, as he did yesterday, "And by the way they got a flat tax in Russia." They got one indeed, and it's turnin' that country 'round big-time....
You also know when Mr. Bush is in full command when he's not afraid to let his merriness out. His natural verbal style is Texas wise-guy: asked by a student if he had any advice for her life he said, "Yeah, listen to your mother." This got a lot of laughter but then, to show respect for a child who asked an honest question, he turned serious, and what he said was moving. "Follow your dreams.... You never know where life's gonna take ya. I never sat and thought, 'Gosh, if I work hard I'll be president of the United States.' It wasn't in my vocabulary. But you never know. You never know. Trust the Lord."
Harry Truman couldn't have said it better himself.
Oh, and I'm the last person who should take anyone to task for blogging glitches, but the text of Noonan's post from yesterday appears twice in succession at the link, as if she copied it out of Word and pasted it in twice. We all make mistakes, but (a) this is The Wall Street Journal, where you'd think someone might notice the glitch, and (b) it's rather an embarrassing thing to do with a post titled "Incompetence."