Monday, January 26, 2009

Smart Guy

Clever guy, this Barack. The problem at Gitmo has always been that these guys are being held without trial. So Obama announces that he’s not going to make any decision for 120 days – they just sit there, waitin’ for Barack - and he gets the media to buy his story that this is a reversal of the Bush policy. The other problem is that people claim that the prisoners there were tortured, at least during the first few weeks. So Obama assures everyone publicly that we will not torture, absolutely not, except when we might really need to, and his CIA director won’t quite commit to calling waterboarding always a form of torture. (My money is on: it’s torture when someone else authorizes it).

Also, we are continuing to bomb villages in Afghanistan, which the Taliban claims is killing women and children. Our sources say no, it’s all jihadists we’re killing. No change there, except here’s the thing: Obama apparently believes our sources now, unlike in 2007, and our media seems willing to take his word for it. Problem solved! We’re putting more troops there, and everyone’s fine with that. The idea that we might have to take military actions within Pakistan’s borders hasn’t prompted the left to talk about quagmires, or cycles of violence, or American imperialism.

This is bittersweet for conservatives. At one level, we’re thrilled that Obama gets it, now that he’s looking at the daily security briefings. That was always the case, as most Democrats who actually had the real information usually signed off on the Bush Administration actions. Once terrorists move from being pawns in the American political game, mere abstract counters where people get to preen about how noble they are, to actual dangerous people in our custody who want to kill Americans, what to do with them becomes much more problematic. Obama is smart enough to understand the situation and adjust. That’s a good thing.

It is more than a little irritating, however, to see Obama given a pass, or even praise, for the very things even he attacked Bush on. All that rhetoric about fascists, and cabals, and BusHitler, that made the rounds over the last few years – what was that all about? All that relief progressives feel about not having to worry about Bush-Cheney anymore – was there ever anything more to it than feelings? The idea that whoa, those guys are cowboys, we’d be much safer with one of our guys in charge turns out to be the entire basis of foreign policy? All those foreigners must hate Bush for the same reason we do, but once we have one of our good guys in there, the world will deal with us better. Whew, sure glad we got the guys from our tribe in there! What a narrow escape, huh?


bs king said...

Time magazine did a pretty interesting piece on this...they came to a slightly less sinister conclusion than you do, though along the same lines. The problem is/was that Bush squandered a lot of good will in some of his initial actions, so Obama (and any other Democrat worth his or her salt) harped on those actions. Time pointed out that the problem with this was that Bush's current actions were, by and large, just fine. So they predicted months ago that whoever got the presidency would do so by bashing Bush's outdated policies, then following his current ones.

Apparently a lot of the good will Bush squandered was in the State Department and the CIA (at least according to my father in law who worked in the DOS for 30 years and his CIA friends), so I doubt you'll get a lot of high level folks giving reporters good quotes about this. Of course, the reporters may not have used them anyway.

Anyhow, Obama seems to have a real knack for working the political media system, always has. I get by irritated by people who think that means he's inherently a better man because of it, but I also hope that in the end there's some substance to the style.

Anonymous said...

That's an amazing piece of spin from Time Magazine. I'm surprised anyone would be foolish enough to buy it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't know about DOS, but Bush "squandered" no good will with the CIA. That agency should be disbanded, and its functions divided among State, FBI, and Defense. They wanted to do something different; it's not their call, but they think it should be. They have played the "leaks" game with him throughout.

They think they know better. They have been spectacularly wrong for decades. Why should they like him?