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?
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....
This has been a year of astounding achievement, as I have noted in my year-end interviews. And let's not forget the Nobel. Despite my comparative youth and my amazing vigor, I have to confess I'm tired. What would you have had me do?
FOR STARTERS, you could have told your pilots to turn Air Force One around and flown home. You could have fired Janet Napolitano. And you could have acknowledged from the outset that we have a huge national security problem far larger than anything you imagined.
Well, yes. Two uninvited twits shaking your hand at your first state dinner. No racial profiling because of political correctness and the settlement worked out this year with the flying imams. Major Nidal Malik Hasan killing for Allah two months ago at Ft. Hood. Five virgin-seekers from the D.C. area plotting to target American bases in Afpak (Afghanistan and Pakistan). And now Abdulmutallab, who should have had his visa revoked: His very father warned CIA operatives in Nigeria about his radicalization six weeks ago.
Calm down. Those are isolated incidents.
Abdulmutallab says he was working for al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken responsibility for setting up Abdulmutallab. Both he and Hasan may be acolytes of Yemen-based jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki. At least two former residents of Guantanamo -- Said Ali al-Shirhi and Muhammad al-Awfi -- are said to be in Yemen helping direct al Qaeda operations there. Maybe you should give up your notions of closing Guantanamo and liberating many of its inmates (more than 90 of them Yemenis) to foreign countries to resume warring against America.
HAVE YOU forgotten about Iran?
Sir, you need to get with the entire jihad program. These people clearly mean business, and that includes Iran -- perhaps now the nexus, ground zero, in the war on terror (a phrase you have decreed no longer acceptable by members of your administration).
As I said in the memo, which you evidently have seen, ours is not a "war on terror" -- and certainly not, in that noxious Bush-Cheney phrase, "the long war." It is merely an "overseas contingency operation."
And when will it be over? When will we know we have won it?
We probably won't ever win it. That is why I dislike, and rarely use, the word "victory." This contingency operation will end when we give enough aid to peace-loving Muslims to lift them out of poverty -
But Osama bin Laden is mega rich. Abdulmutallab hails from Nigeria's ruling class. Most of the 9/11 plotters were middle-class or better.
And it will end when, given the heroism displayed (albeit by a Dutchman) aboard Northwest Flight 253, we understand the critical role citizens play when they take the reins in their own defense. That sort of defines what homeland security is all about.
So does that mean, Mr. President, that you are going to leave the gun-control issue alone -- and not try to deconstruct the Second Amendment, even have it declared unconstitutional?
Aloha to you, my friend. Here's that mai-tai for the flight home.
Aloha to you as well, sir. And thanks. And speaking of home, in the new year you might want to come home, too -- figuratively as well as literally. Maybe you'll finally move national security and Iran to the front of the stove.