WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin framed the basic story up nicely:Shockingly, these unusual events prompted even MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to put down the Kool-Aid for a minute:
"Yesterday, even as a goodly swath of official Washington was running panic-stricken into the streets, President Bush was riding his bike in the country, completely unaware of what was going on. Aides reportedly decided that since he wasn't personally in danger, he didn't need to know. ... The official White House line yesterday was that "protocols" established post-9/11 were being followed. But what are those protocols? ... Do they really call for the president not to be bothered if he's personally not in danger?"
... While the official story is that the crisis was too minor to bother the President, the WH at first certainly didn't react that way. Federal offices, the White House and Congress were evacuated. Laura and a visiting Nancy Reagan were quickly hustled into the WH bunker. VP Cheney on was whisked out of town in a VERY heavily armed Motorcade. ... The one person who didn't swing into action was the guy supposedly in charge. He had better things to do than worry about it. ...
[T]he place where the President was biking is almost in my back yard. The White House seems to want people to have the impression its some sort of remote wilderness area. In reality it's nothing of the sort. ... [T]he northern end of the Refuge (where the President was most likely biking given the abundance of trails in that area) actually borders the southern end of Ft. Meade [an Army base which] also houses the National Security Agency ...
While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going on.
There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis.
I hate to break it to White House officials, but their fearless leader knew less about the security crisis gripping the nation's capital than millions of Americans. If the President isn't troubled by these developments, then I am. As Mr. Bush likes to remind us, we are in a war on terror where seconds count. ... If the President of the United States cannot have his bike ride interrupted to learn of a possible terror attack on Washington, then he is not fit to lead this country in its war on terror.It is very tempting to think that this whole crisis was nothing more than a big show (there are also strange aspects of the pilots of the small plane that wandered into restricted space) to continue scaring the country -- TERROR! TERROR! -- and there was never any real danger at all.