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EDITORIAL: The pooh-pooh presidency

Known for leaping in front of cameras to bolster support for health care "reform" or cap and trade, President Obama gives resounding campaign-style speeches to back agenda items he actually cares about. Terrorism doesn't rate that much effort. After Fort Hood and Northwest Airlines Flight 253, Mr. Obama seemed like he was dragged in front of the American people.

Since Mr. Obama initially approached the Fort Hood shootings as a footnote in an already scheduled speech before the Tribal Nations Conference in November, national security matters haven't gone smoothly. He managed to belittle the massacre, giving shout outs to government officials before addressing the tragedy.

This time, the White House avoided Mr. Obama blurting out anything untoward. Instead, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did that all for him, initially saying security measures to protect passengers on flights "worked well" and later backtracking to say, "the system failed miserably."

When Mr. Obama finally did address the American people about the attempted terror attack three days later, it wasn't to rally a people under attack or to assure the nation he was up to the challenge of defending the United States, it was to pooh-pooh the attack. He blamed the whole thing on an "isolated extremist." Mr. Obama bravely called on the American people to join him in continuing to underestimate the size of the problem.

For good reason, Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats to handle national security issues. According to a Rasmussen poll released in late November, just before Mr. Obama's speech on Afghan strategy, voters trusted the Republican Party more than Democrats in terms of national security and the war on terror by 50 percent to 37 percent.

You'd think poll results like that would spur the White House to take terrorism a little more seriously. However, in the first days after Christmas, Mr. Obama remained personally disengaged from addressing the public about the latest terror scare and left the heavy lifting to subordinates like Ms. Napolitano.

While the president continued to play golf, basketball and work out in an island paradise during the Detroit terror aftermath, many in the media excused Mr. Obama for blowing them off. After all, reporters following the president are happy not to be sweating it out in Crawford, Texas, anymore.

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