Monday, November 15, 2010

TSA Backlash Week: Napolitano's Take

Janet Napolitano tries to get ahead of TSA Backlash Week. It might be more convincing if she didn't conclude with a blitz of bureaucratic-speak: "We face a determined enemy. Our security depends on us being more determined and more creative to adapt to evolving threats. It relies upon a multi-layered approach that leverages the strengths of our international partners, the latest intelligence, and the patience and vigilance of the American traveling public." And that's the most engaging part!

Hey, I get it: If a plane goes down, Napolitano loses her job and probably retires to the ranks of HeckuvaJobBrowniedom. It might not be entirely fair: As I've said, it's possible to do everything right and the terrorists still score a point. But read her whole piece and there's a sense that Napolitano -- who should have a bit of a political ear; she was a governor, after all -- isn't really engaging the real concerns of real people who actually have to hurdle TSA's procedures to go on business trips or visit family or do whatever else they have to do. Napolitano's message: It's not that bad. But the people who are coming forward with stories of being felt up or losing their tickets because they refuse invasive screening are adding up, and they have a message, too: It's bad enough. Stop it.

We're approaching a point where TSA is going to have to be responsive to the concerns of fliers -- the people it's trying to keep secure, after all -- or the agency will strangle the airline industry. The worst thing that can happen is that people accept these measures as "the new normal."

1 comment:

Monkey RobbL said...

"Napolitano -- who should have a bit of a political ear; she was a governor, after all"

Yeah, but she was a Governor in ARIZONA. The bar's pretty low out here. She got the Governor job because:

* The "incumbent" wasn't running for re-election. Jane Hull herself became Governor when her predecessor went to jail.

* Napolitano was the Attorney General during the Hull administration, so she had name recognitition, and she also notably saved the state's fiscal bacon by finding a way (as AG) to kill the Alternative Fuel Car boondoggle. So she didn't have to work very hard to get positive attention politically.

* She was running against a reasonably principled Republican who happened to be Mormon. At the time, that worked against him because voters were still skittish due to their last LDS governor, who also had to resign from office in disgrace.

Even so, she only won the election by 1 percentage point - 46 to 45.

All that to say, it didn't take a lot of political savvy for her to get elected.