In a mea culpa Thursday, Obama took responsibility for the Christmas Day terrorist attack, saying "the buck stops with me." It was a conscious effort, his aides said, to differentiate himself from former President Bush. But for all the transparency and accountability, Obama used Bushian rhetoric to underscore his toughness, bluntly stating, "We are at war against al Qaeda." Will it be enough to offset criticism that the president seems detached? Even Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who excoriated Republicans for being "desperate to break this president," is frustrated with Obama. "Obviously we're in the middle of a partisan battle and would love to have the White House swing in behind us," he said.