Ross Mackenzie

Aloha, Mr. President.

Well, Aloha to you, too. I'm amazed you would come all the way out here to the beaches of Hawaii for one of our conversations. Can I have my footman get you a flower-print shirt and a mai-tai?

No thanks -- but I sure could use the mai-tai. Or a couple.

You're upset? About what?

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Sir, principally about two things -- Iran and your administration's seeming ignorance and incompetence regarding both jihadist terror and national security.

Get a grip. You're sounding like one of those nutty right-wingers. Bush and Cheney have departed the scene -- remember?

But, sir. Iran is testing improved two-stage rockets. It is negotiating to buy 1,350 tons of purified uranium yellow-cake from private Kazakh suppliers. It disses everyone from the UN to you. It detests Israel and the U.S. It is shooting its own freedom-fighters in the streets. You talk of negotiations and diplomacy. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month, "I don't think that anyone can doubt that our outreach has produced very little in terms of any kind of a positive response from the Iranians."

WE'RE WORKING on engaging Iran but it requires patience. Stay tuned. You've got concerns about terror and national security?

Profound concerns, sir. Let's start with the attempted Christmas Day destruction of Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit -- and its 278 passengers. You basked on the beach here, and would have ripped President Bush for doing so in a similar circumstance (think 9/11 and Katrina). You assured Americans that they are still secure flying. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said "the traveling public is safe" and "the system worked."

Well, it did. No one died.

A consequence of luck and bravery aboard the flight, sir -- similar to the bravery on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania on 9/11, without the luck (for those aboard, at least). Several days later, you issued a statement citing an "unacceptable (and) catastrophic breach" of security regarding the near-success of Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

We have things under control. The security of the American people is, of course, my highest priority -- higher than combatting global warming and socializing the nation's health care.

Yet you remained in Hawaii, sifting sand....

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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