The talk shows Sunday were as notable for what was not said: Scarcely any mention, in a political context, of the plot to smuggle two bombs into the country. If the alleged terrorist plot has any impact on Tuesday’s elections, it won’t be because either party is trying to make it an issue.
To be sure, the discovery of two bombs on cargo planes, and the subsequent arrest of two women, was a topic of discussion Sunday morning. John Brennan, President Obama’s top terrorism adviser, provided updates on the ongoing investigation on each of the six morning shows.
But the issue was not even broached by moderators in interviews with politicians afterward. The closest came on “Face the Nation,” when host Bob Scheiffer interviewed Peter King, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, but the New York congressman gave only praise to the administration.
“I've had differences with John Brennan,” he said. “But let me make it clear: On this particular matter, I think the administration has handled it perfectly.”
The dearth of criticism stands in stark contrast from the last foiled terrorist attack, the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an airliner in Detroit. The Obama administration became a target of conservative critics for that incident and the way authorities handled its investigation afterward, including the president's decision not to end his vacation in Hawaii.
In this case, politicizing the plot only days after its discovery and amid an ongoing investigation is fraught with peril for any official, who could be seen trying to score political points on a sensitive issue. Terrorism, even debate about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have also been almost been entirely absent from the campaign trail this year, giving way to concerns over the country’s ailing economy.