How to successfully further the aims of your critics…

It is a week after it was exposed that the White House had advance warning and details of a possible plot to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings before 9/11. The Democrats are calling for a full inquiry and the White House looks like they’re in a real bad position no matter how you slice it. Now the White House is pumping out daily headlines with vauge information that they may again be up to something, while at the same time criticizing the Democrats for questioning their authority.

It is a week after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba and called for lifting of the 40 year old trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Jimmy says that the Cubans are definitley not developing weapons of mass destruction and, being the first current or former President of the United States to do so, has delivered a public and uncensored speech to the people of Cuba extolling the benefits of democracy. And now George Dubyah is in Florida with his brother, Gov’nah Jeb, hyping up his demands for Cuban reforms and shoring up his position on refusing to lift the embargo.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the White House is a bit too interested right now in domestic PR campaigns to cover their collective butts. Would it not be better to keep a more reserved and conservative profile and move forward with working on resolutions rather than embarking on these somewhat tasteless campaigns to enhance their own political image? (Which in turn has quite the opposite effect, IMO…)

When someone tries to bait you into an argument, if you react and lash back out at them, then they have already won. It makes you look like a fool, or an ogre, and the more noise you make, the more foolish or ogre-ish you appear. If you remain focused and stay on the path, you have a better chance of coming out on top. Engage in constructive dialogue, but don’t engage in public tit-for-tat speeches about who should be doing what. That just serves to polarize the opposite parties rather than bring them together.

If it were me, I would have made one clear public statement regarding the advance warnings and left it at that. I think it is pretty obvious to any reasonable person that there are simply thousands of these kinds of reports that come along and while it is possible to prevent many incidents as many have been so already, it is quite probable that things can slip through the cracks of such a complex world. In hindsight a lot more could have been done, but we could say the same thing about Pearl Harbor, right? The bottom line is that going on the defensive sends a signal that you have something to hide.

If it were me, I would have invited Mr. Carter to come to the White House and provide a full report. My only public statement would have been “we are evaluating Mr. Carter’s report in detail and we thank him for his sincere patriotism and proactive sense of diplomacy”, and left it at that. Who cares if you really think he’s a naive and reckless idealist, at least you remain neutral and allow both parties to save face. Again, going on the defensive only serves to make you look worse than you may already, rather than seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the situation in a more diplomatic fasion.

But hey, that’s just me…