The Buck Stops with Obama

Welcome back!

Late Night TV Shuffle

Jay Leno is mercifully shifted back to late night after floundering around in prime time with a show that had no business being in prime time. Instead of creating a new format, he ended up trying to shoehorn his standard late night show where it clearly didn't work. Conan O'Brien lost the audience lead, that Leno had bequeathed him, to David Letterman so he is fortunate that his Tonight Show will just be pushed back to 12:05 a.m. [Hey who said scandals aren't audience builders?] Let's hope that NBC's programmers replace it with some intelligent scripted shows and not try to paper the time slot with more mindless reality shows.

Obama Takes Responsibility- Will it be Enough?

Well, the political and institutional fall-out has continued from the attempted Christmas Day bombing. [The fact that it was combined with a huge number of Holiday air travelers of course made it far worse than it was.] What is interesting to note is how President Obama responded. At first he left it to Homeland Defense Department Secretary Janet Napolitano whose instinct seemed to be to reassure the American public that things were in control. Her famous 'the system worked' clip clearly irritated (although context got quickly lost) as the first instinct of the public is that they want to hear their leaders convey a strong sense of outrage mixed with determination [think Giuliani after 9/11] once something like this happens.

The fact that it actually happened over Canadian airspace, by the way, largely went unnoticed in the media. [What a lot of people on both sides of the border don't realize is that the people in Detroit are actually NORTH of Windsor, Ontario!]

So the President kicked into gear two days later and began to send a tough message that something was clearly wrong with the intelligence system and this got reinforced as more and more information came out about the 23 year old Nigerian 'underwear bomber' whose own father begged the C.I.A. to do something about his son. This information really ratcheted up the outrage factor and the President had to keep abreast of it.

Hence the speech today from the White House. When a leader steps up to the plate and admits that 'the buck stops here' (the famous quote from 'Give 'em hell' Harry Truman) it demonstrates leadership. Did it work? Take a look at this MSNBC piece contrasting the Bush and Obama approaches to admitting fault and taking responsibility.

All politicians can learn from that!

Until next time, hope your 2010 is going better than the Messrs. Obama, Leno and O'Brien!

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