The difference between the words of Candidate Obama and the deeds of President Obama reads like something from the pages of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Candidate Obama was a doctrinaire liberal finding outrages in every facet of the Bush War on Terror. President Obama has embraced most of the Bush strategy. What does all of this say about the man we have elected President?
First we had Candidate Obama, . . .
There was no one more caustic or demagogic in their criticism of President Bush's prosecution of the War on Terror than Candidate Obama.
Obama daily demonized President Bush . . .
. . . for an outrageous litany of supposed moral and constitutional failings in the War on Terror . . .
But then Obama
ascended was elected President on a promise of change . . .
. . . And change there has been . . .
. . . just not the change those misguided souls who voted for him expected.
From Day 1, newly
ascended elected President Obama . . .
. . . began adopting the Bush programs in the War on Terror virtually wholesale.
Obama did so with only superficial modifications to the programs so that Obama could retain his facade of moral superiority with the help . . .
. . . of a complicit MSM.
It is not that the MSM has failed to note this change . . .
. . . but they are far too smitten with the One to challenge him on it. And indeed, some of his sycophants in the media are putting the most positive spin on this possible. For instance, the LA Times praises the One for his changing of positions at light speed: "Obama is emerging as a leader so committed to pragmatism that he will move to a new position with barely a shrug." Well, the last part of the sentence is true, but given that all of the positions Obama took in the election contest were deeply ideological and cast in morality, this new pragmatism, if that is what it is, adds a tremendous cognitive dissonance.
Update: Victor Davis Hanson weighed in on this today in a column at NRO titled Ministers of Truth:
. . . [I]t is quite astounding that the mainstream liberal media — NY Times, Washington Post, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, etc. — has simply offered no substantive criticism of Obama's flips on renditions, military tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, Iraq, or — given their past fury over the Bush deficits — the Obama plan to run up more red ink in a year than Bush did in eight.
. . . [T]o pick up any of these magazines and newspapers now is to see tortured apologies to explain why a flip-flopping Obama is playing "long-term" or "not going to get suckered by his base" or "first has to clean up the Bush mess" instead of disinterested commentary about (a) the disconnect between what Obama now does and what he once said; (b) the staggering amount of debt added, and how to pay the sums off. . . .
At any rate, just how wide, one might ask, is the gap between Candidate Obama's promises and President Obama's practices?
. . . it's fair to say "substantial."
Let's look at some examples:
Extraordinary Rendition -
Candidate Obama . . .
. . . said in March, 2008:
"Our greatest tool in advancing democracy is our own example. That's why I will end torture, end extraordinary rendition and indefinite detentions; restore habeas corpus; and close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay."
But then, two days after his
ascension election, President Obama, . . .
. . . signalled by omission his decision to allow extraordinary rendition to continue. In a surprise - and very quiet - move, Obama simply left rendition out of his Executive Order dealing with the CIA's detention and interrogation of prisoners. CIA Chief Leon Paneta later stated during his nomination hearings that the CIA is continuing the extraordinary rendition program.
FISA and Warrantless Wiretaps
Candidate Obama . . .
. . . said in June 2008:
This Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. When I am president, there will be no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens; no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime; no more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. Our Constitution works, and so does the FISA court.
But then, After the
ascension election, President Obama . . .:
. . . "fell in line with the Bush administration . . . when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. . . ."
State Secrets Privilege
Candidate Obama . . .
. . . harshly criticized the Bush administration for its broad interpretation of the State Secrets privilege, saying that it "ignored public disclosure rules" and that the administration too often invoked "the state-secrets privilege" to have entire law suits dismissed.
But after the
ascension election of President Obama:
President Obama's DOJ raised the same State Secrets defense in three seperate cases where individuals had brought suit against the government over rendition, eavesdropping and torture. In each case, the DOJ took the same expansive view of this privilege/defense as had the Bush administration.
But Obama's DOJ goes one better - essentially refusing to acknowledge the power of a federal court. In a suit brought by al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, the presiding Judge allowed the case to continue despite the Obama DOJ's invocation of the State Secrets Privilege. Obama's DOJ "warned that if the judge does not change his mind, authorities could spirit away the top-secret documents." In other words, the Obama DOJ is going to act extrajudicialy and in contravention of a court order if it does not like the ruling of the Court.
And here we were led to believe that . . .
. . . it was BushHitler who acted in total disregard of the law and Constitution.
Candidate Obama said said. . .
We cannot afford to lose any more valuable time in the fight against terrorism to a dangerously flawed legal approach. I voted against the Military Commissions Act because its sloppiness would inevitably lead to the Court, once again, rejecting the Administration's extreme legal position. The fact is, this Administration's position is not tough on terrorism, and it undermines the very values that we are fighting to defend. Bringing these detainees to justice is too important for us to rely on a flawed system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9-11 attacks, and compromised our core values.
ascension election, and within the past few days, President Obama said . . .
Military commissions have a long tradition in the United States. They are appropriate for trying enemies who violate the laws of war, provided that they are properly structured and administered. In the past, I have supported the use of military commissions as one avenue to try detainees, in addition to prosecution in Article III courts. . . .
As former U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy points out, Obama's revisions to the Military Commissions procedures - such that he now finds Military Commissions acceptable - are . . .
. . . purely cosmetic.
Candidate Obama said . . . ,
. . . on the Senate floor in 2006:
"In Sunday's New York Times, it was reported that previous drafts of the recently released National Intelligence Estimate . . . describe "actions by the United States Government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay." This is not just unhelpful in our fight against terror, it is unnecessary."
ascension election, President Obama . . .
(This from Human Rights Watch in April, 2009:)
On March 13, in response to a federal court order seeking a definition of the term "enemy combatant," the Obama administration claimed the authority to pick people up anywhere in the world on the grounds of support for or association with al Qaeda or the Taliban, and to hold them indefinitely in military detention. Rather than rejecting the Bush administration's ill-conceived notion of a "war on terror," the Obama administration merely discarded the phrase and tinkered with its form.
Candidate Obama . . .
. . . spoke strongly in favor of extending criminal law rights of habeas corpus to all prisoners in the War on Terror. Then, after the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision granting these habeus corpus rights, Obama celebrated it:
Today's Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values. The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo.
But after the
ascension election, President Obama . . .
. . . tried to turn the detention facility at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan into the new "legal black hole" - a Guantanamo in Afghanistan. This from the NYT: -
The importance of Bagram as a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq has increased under the Obama administration, . . . The administration had sought to preserve Bagram as a haven where it could detain terrorism suspects beyond the reach of American courts, telling Judge Bates in February that it agreed with the Bush administration’s view that courts had no jurisdiction over detainees there.
All of the above has Obama's far left base . . .
. . . squealing like stuck pigs.
As to those of us not of the far left, even while we sit and stare in amazement at what apprears to be Obama's epic displays of hypocrisy and disingenuousness . . . .
. . . we won't complain over the outcome.
All that said, has anything actually . . .
. . . changed?
Well, yes . . .
The president in fact signed the executive order requiring Guantanamo to be closed within a year . . . There is just . . .
. . . one large question - what to do with the detainees? It seems many of the same people who pointed to Guantanamo as an abomination are now antsy at best, if not outright refusing to allow these terrorists to be held in their state. Indeed, it was only a week ago that Congress stripped a preliminary funding measure for the closure of Gitmo out of a spending bill. It is probably even odds that Guantanamo is retained.
Waterboarding and Coercive Interrogation.
President Obama stated at his 100 days news conference that waterboarding meets the legal defenition of "torture." Thus, Obama tells us, waterboarding is both immoral and illegal. Moreover, in a seperate speech, Obama lectured America that, by even considering waterboarding to be lawful, it was proof positive that we had, under lesser leadership, lost our "moral compass." Obama, in January, called an end to all coercive interrogation . . .
. . . only non-coercive means of interrogation in the Army Field Manual are now allowed. I would strongly recommend this 2004 article in City Journal that discusses the near complete lack of success of military interrogators questioning religious zealots of al Qaeda and the Taliban when limited to only non-coercive techniques of interrogation. At any rate . . .
President Obama's articulation of moral imperatives as our new National Defense policy motivated ex-CIA agent Michael Scheuer to come to his own considered conclusion . . .
. . . about Obama's moral compass:
In a breathtaking display of self-righteousness and intellectual arrogance, the president told Americans that his personal beliefs are more important than protecting their country, their homes and their families. . . . Mulling Obama's claim, one can wonder what could be more moral for a president than doing all that is needed to defend America and its citizens? Or, asked another way, is it moral for the president of the United States to abandon intelligence tools that have saved the lives and property of Americans and their allies in favor of his own ideological beliefs
With that in mind, I suspect the when we next see a . . .
. . . second major terrorist attack, it will be followed shortly thereafter by . . .
. . . a line of people with torches and pitch forks heading towards Pennsylvania Ave . . . only to find . . .
. . . President Obama already having had one of his seemingly daily epiphanies, this one leading to a recalibration of his moral compass.
Transparency and Declassification
Candidate Obama promised
. . . [to] restore the balance between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in a democratic society . . . to put more information into the hands of the American people.
ascension election, President Obama . .
. . . did indeed keep his promise - a little, in a highly partisan manner. Obama made four classified Office of Legal Counsel memos on waterboarding public in order to show that he was morally pure while, in comparison, . . .
. . . the Bushies were not.
It was really a toss of . . .
. . . red meat to his base.
But Obama was foiled by . . .
. . . Darth Cheney
Cheney said that . . .
. . . waterboarding worked to save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of American lives.
A few other important people . . .
. . . agreed with Cheney. And they seem to have been in the best position to know . . .
Cheney asked for two documents to be . . .
. . . declassified and made public like the OLC memos. He claimed these documents would prove his point by telling the public what we learned from waterboarding and how it saved the lives of countless innocents.
Obama could declassify those memos at any time with . . .
. . . but a wave of his hand.
Obama has since claimed that he has read the memos and . . .
. . . the memos do not prove Cheney's point.
Yet if that is so, why does Obama refuse to release them? Obama refusal is founded on the narrow - and ludicrous - ground that the memos are subject to ongoing litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. But so were the four OLC memos Obama ordered declassified. This all has sent my . . .
. . . BS detection meter into red line.
And indeed this would seem . . .
. . . a particularly premium grade of the stuff.
With Obama's offer of red meat to his base, there have come unintended consequences. For one, President Obama has . . .
. . . set off a feeding frenzy amongst the far left. Obama wants this to go no further. His base is of a different mind. They will not be satisfied until they have consumed the last morsels of Bush au jus and Cheney au gratin.
And, in another unintended consequence, we are being treated to the meltdown of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Factcheck.org memorializes it best here. She has tried a comic litany of excuses to disclaim any responsibility for approving of waterboarding in 2002 and thereafter. To make matters worse, in a moment of fluster, Pelosi declared war on the CIA, saying that they deliberated lied to her. This can't be good for the left or Obama, let alone for Pelosi. The best analogy I can think of is to a mouse that just walked in front of a feeding cat and . . .
. . . urinated in it's bowl of Little Friskies. Indeed, this was a bad decision of epic proportions for the Speaker.
And indeed, I would imagine the mouse's expression, in the split second after realizing the ramifications of what it had just done, would bear an uncany resembelance . . .
. . . to face of the Nancy Pelosi as she answered questions on what she knew and when she knew it.
It turns out that Obama's desire to score a partisan victory on waterboarding and satiate his base has gone . . .
. . . spinning a bit out of control.
No problem with that, though, at least so long . . .
. . . as the popcorn supply lasts.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
And there is one other major change. The Department of Homeland Security has changed their focus. Apparently, they are now less concerned with Islamic terrorists . . .
. . . Instead, Obama's Dept. of Homeland Security has now shifted focus to some new, and evidently
. . . more dangerous terrorist threats to society.
That includes returning . . .
. . . veterans
But, as a practical matter, not all of veterans are suspect . . .
. . . since not all of our soldiers who come home are capable of making the leap from fighting terrorists to becoming terrorists.
How utterly devoid of both patriotism and even the smallest modicum of common sense - indeed, how partisan to the point of irrationality - must someone be, to smear our returning soldiers with a generalized charge of being ripe for terrorist recruitment?
I guess we have an answer.
At any rate, if your having trouble coming to grips with how Obama could be so two-faced on seemingly every issue associated with National Security, do remember -
- "You do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments."
- "A People's Organization is dedicated to an eternal war. A war is not an intellectual debate, and in the war against social evils there are no rules of fair play."
- "Truth is mutable and will change from time to time as necessary."
- Saul Alinsky, quotations from Rules For Radicals and Reveille for Radicals.
Hmmmm, now it makes a bit more sense.
I think a few things can be gleaned from the exercise above. Obama's statements of the highest standards of morality and ethics one day, only to be tossed so carelessly aside the next, speaks of a person for whom, in the words of William Jacobson, morality is a "sword, not a principle." In other words, he played the most cynical politics imaginable with our national security. And it is equally clear that Obama follows in the Alinsky model. Power is sought for its own sake. To the extent Obama is acting in accordance with any deeply held principles, they are kept well hidden, likely too extreme for public consumption. Traditional concepts of morality and ethics are but rhetorical devices for Obama.
Obama is a deeply disingenuous man. He is the epitome of the far left. Yes despite the total lack of intellectual honesty among Obama and his ilk, they have succeeded over the past eight years in convincing the majority of our citizens that they are best prepared to run our country. They have successfully managed to, falsely, pin this economic crisis on Republicans. They tried dearly to surrender in Iraq by pretending that this would be best for America rather than soley best for them. They applaud when our judicial activists rewrite the Constitution and interpret it according to their whim. They define "equal rights" as dividing our nation into dependant victims groups entitled to unequal treatment. They sell the snake oil that the profit motive is sinful, even as they and their cronies get rich from their association with our government. They denigrate business, even though, without a robust private economy, our paper money would have the value of paper. Their policies, taken to their logical conclusions, would result in an America with far less freedom, a far weaker economy, and a nation where achievment is no longer rewarded. It would be a weak nation whose decaying military would serve as a vehicle for politcal patronage in procurement rather than as a tool of national defense.
Republicans are now engaged in a rethink of the ideals of their party and a reorganization. But an equally important question is how we have allowed this turn of events where such a deeply corrupt group as the far left, epitomized by Obama, has taken such a hold in our society? We need a comprehensive strategy that is able to expose and attack it. In short, we desperately need our own brand of "Rules for Radicals."
Update: Jim Geraghty, writing at NRO on Monday, has reached virtually the same conclusions as I articluate above. This from Mr. Geraghty:
Obama’s defenders would no doubt insist this is a reflection of his pragmatism, his willingness to eschew ideology to focus on what solutions work best. This view assumes that nominating Bill Richardson as commerce secretary, running up a $1.8 trillion deficit, approving the AIG bonuses, signing 9,000 earmarks into law, adopting Senator McCain’s idea of taxing health benefits, and giving U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown 25 DVDs that don’t work in Britain constitute “what works best.” Obama is a pragmatist, but a pragmatist as understood by Alinsky: One who applies pragmatism to achieving and keeping power. . . .
Alinsky sneered at those who would accept defeat rather than break their principles: “It’s true I might have trouble getting to sleep because it takes time to tuck those big, angelic, moral wings under the covers.” He assured his students that no one would remember their flip-flops, scoffing, “The judgment of history leans heavily on the outcome of success or failure; it spells the difference between the traitor and the patriotic hero. There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds he becomes a founding father.” If you win, no one really cares how you did it. . . .
Read the entire article.
Update 2: I published this post on Sunday, but its now obvious that others are noticing precisely the same things about Obama. A day later, Jack Goldsmith at TNR published a long article on Obama's adoption of the majority of the Bush War On Terror, though his article is actually aimed at refuting Cheney's claims that Obama has been weak on this issue. What Goldsmith neglects to mention is that what Obama has done to hurt morale and induce risk aversity at the CIA, his public change to available interrogation techniques, and his greenlighting of punishment of the OLC attorneys who advised the CIA have in fact wrought deep hurt to our intelligence capability, irrespective of all else.