Like little stars.
In the glare of the national spotlight, some phrases can come back to haunt you. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., surely wishes he’d never said, back during the presidential campaign, that the fundamentals of the economy were “strong.” And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano probably knows that “the system worked” isn’t something Americans want to hear from a person charged with keeping them safe not long after a man managed to make it on a plane bound for Detroit with bomb materials strapped to himself.
On Monday, Napolitano made the morning show rounds, and on NBC’s “Today” show she took the opportunity to try to explain herself.
“I think the comment is being taken out of context,” the Homeland Security head said. “What I’m saying is, once the incident occurred, moving forward, we were immediately able to notify the 128 flights in the air of protective measures to take, immediately able to notify law enforcement on the ground … all of that happening within 60 to 90 minutes.”
In response to a question from “Today’s” Matt Lauer, Napolitano agreed that before the botched attack occurred, the system had indeed “failed miserably.”
Napolitano’s explanation does hold water — in context, it’s clear that when she said “the system worked,” she meant after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a plane, not beforehand, when he escaped being placed on a watch list and brought his materials on board.
It was, however, still a pretty dumb thing to say — it does appear as if she may have been trying to conflate before and after, and beyond that, the words “the system worked” just shouldn’t be uttered about this situation. And though she’ll probably weather this particular storm without too much difficulty, she’s given additional ammunition to the Obama administration’s enemies, some of whom are now calling for her to be fired.
Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.More Alex Koppelman.
Like little stars.
World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.
So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).
My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.
High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.
Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.
New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.
Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.
Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.
Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.
Really does taste like pineapple.