For the past few days, Republicans such as Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and former Bush adviser Karl Rove have been aggressively criticizing the Obama administration’s response to the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. “I’m disappointed it’s taken the president 72 hours to even address this issue,” said King on Monday. As ThinkProgress and others have noted, such attacks are supremely hypocritical considering that no Republicans complained when it took President Bush six days to comment on the similarly failed shoe bomber attack. But according to Politico, King and Hoekstra won’t concede that they’re holding Obama to a double standard:
The Democrats’ counterattack is aimed largely at two Republican congressmen who have been particularly critical of Obama, Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.). But neither GOP lawmaker will concede applying a double standard to Obama. [...]
Asked Tuesday about how Obama’s response differed from Bush’s, King said it was his “recollection” that senior Bush Administration officials such as Attorney General John Ashcroft did speak out about Reid’s case soon after he was arrested. However, POLITICO could not locate any public comment from Ashcroft before he held a press conference when Reid was indicted nearly a month later.
“My point was there was no word coming from anyone except a press handout,” King told POLITICO Tuesday. “It didn’t have to be the president. I’d have been fine if it were Eric Holder or for that matter [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano….There should be a face for the administration. For the first 48 hours, nobody said a word.”
Though he pointed out Hoekstra and King’s hypocrisy, Politico’s Josh Gerstein claimed that “former Bush aides and advisers have sidestepped the issue or endorsed Obama’s approach.” But in a statement given to a different Politico reporter, former Vice President Dick Cheney harshly criticized Obama’s “low key response“:
As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.
Cheney’s claim that the Obama administration’s response to the attempted airline bombing is “trying to pretend we are not at war” is especially hypocritical because one of the Bush administration’s first public comments on the 2001 attempted shoe bombing specifically called it a “law enforcement” issue. At a press conference five days after the incident, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld brushed off questions about Richard Reid’s failed bombing by saying, “That’s a matter that’s in the hands of the law enforcement people and not the Department of Defense.” “And I don’t have anything I would want to add,” said Rumsfeld.
Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) blasted Cheney today, saying “that the apparent leaders of the al Qaeda cell in Yemen were 2 terrorists who were released by Vice President Cheney in secret.” “I think there’s a level of accountability that has to be levied personally on the vice president,” said Massa.
,White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer responds to Cheney on the White House blog, saying that “this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country.”