Let’s say your boss is on vacation and something big happens at the office. You don’t want to bother him, so you tell everyone that there is nothing to worry about, “the system worked. Then, a couple days later your boss is compelled to hold a press conference to admit that there was a “systemic failure.” Quite the opposite of “the system worked.” You’d probably then be a little worried about whether you were going to keep your job.
So DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is probably not feeling all that secure right now. Obama hasn’t thrown her under the bus yet. But using “systemic failure” must make Napolitano cringe. As she was doing serious damage control about how her comments were related to the aftermath of the attack, Obama did, kind of, come to her defense:
Mr. Obama appeared to be trying to contain the damage on Tuesday, offering “systemic failure” as a substitute diagnosis for “system worked.” He framed Ms. Napolitano’s statement by saying she was right that “once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it’s clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions.”
Remember what happened after the last president defended a top official in a crisis? “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie.”
I’m not certain Napolitano should feel much comfort in the comments from Obama. Brown resigned within days of being praised by President Bush.