Why Are Republicans Downplaying the Attempted Times Square Bombing?

Republican leaders who attacked the Obama administration's handling of alleged underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab have been studiously downplaying the attempted attack in Times Square over the weekend.

As Eric Zimmerman noted, Rep. Peter King, the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News that:

“[T]here does not appear to be any foreign connection, there was no intelligence chatter before, there was no conversation since indicating that this was coordinated from overseas. ... Everything has to be left on the table, but as far as the foreign connection, there does not appear to be one right now."

In the aftermath of the attempted underwear bombing, King rushed to the press following his security briefing, telling reporters that "we dropped the ball on this one."

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, sounded incredibly reasonable at an NAACP dinner yesterday evening:

“Don’t jump to any conclusions. Because it could be some lone wolf, crazy guy here in the U.S. Or it could be al-Qaida or Taliban. ... You’ve always got some groups (who) … might claim responsibility.” But “they might not have anything to do with it."

Back in December, Hoekstra told reporters that “people have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration.” He had yet to have been briefed on the incident.

Now, according to AFP reporter Olivier Knox's twitter feed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who took point on attacking Attorney General Eric Holder over the Obama administration's handling of the underwear bomber, is unbelievably ... leader-like in his response to the incident, praising New Yorkers for not being terrorized:

“Meanwhile, a potential tragedy appears to have been averted over the weekend thanks to the vigilance of ordinary citizens and the quick response of law enforcement officials in New York City. We were all alarmed to learn of the attempted car bombing in Times Square but relieved that it failed to go off.

“All of this was a vivid reminder of the continual threats to our security, and of the need to remain vigilant and never drop our guard. New Yorkers responded to this attempted attack just as we’d expect them to. Within hours, Times Square was once again full of tourists, and on Broadway every show went ahead as scheduled on Sunday. So we applaud the people of New York and the local and federal law enforcement officials who snapped into gear to disarm the car-bomb and who continue to investigate this situation.

As Knox noted, McConnell does not call refer to the incident as "terrorism."

Why are Republicans all of a sudden being so reasonable and non-hysterical about this? Is it because the suspect at this time appears to be a middle-aged white guy?

-- A. Serwer

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