Let me say up front, I don't think President Obama is to blame for the Fort Hood shootings, and I don't think it's fair to say otherwise.
But (you knew there had to be a "but"), that doesn't mean Obama won't pay a political price for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's rampage.
At first blush, it seems distasteful to take a political yardstick to the pain suffered at Fort Hood. But if we are to consider this incident part of the bloody tapestry of the larger war on terror, there's no way to separate it from politics. After all, the war on terror has been driving politics in America for the better part of a decade now.
And that might offer insight into why so many are eager to make the massacre a story about the psychological breakdown of a man who just happened to be a Muslim.
If this is just another incident where a deranged man went "postal" at his office, then there's no reason to second-guess the Obama administration's fairly relentless effort to dismantle the war on terror.
That effort stems from what Obama believes to be a sweeping mandate to be Not George Bush. In pursuit of that mandate, the White House has already purged the phrase "war on terror" from its lexicon, preferring "overseas contingency operations." Obama is hell-bent on closing Guantanamo Bay, is making progress on the White House project to treat terrorists as mere criminals, and has kowtowed to the United Nations as no president has. Meanwhile, his secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, says that Islamic terrorism like we saw on 9/11 should now be referred to as "man-caused disasters." But she adds that American right-wingers must be scrutinized as potential terrorists.
All of these moves seemed politically palatable for a war-weary country that felt, rightly or wrongly, as if we'd made it through the worst of it. It was time for a makeover of our political house. The problem is that, rather than merely throw on a fresh coat of paint and lay down some new carpeting, Obama is going after load-bearing walls and structural beams. And if the war on terror refuses to go away as easily as the phrase we use for it did, the whole edifice of the Obama administration could come crashing down.