Krauthammer, and Obama’s Speech


I’m probably going to link to Charles Krauthammer columns a lot. He might be the most prominent conservative voice out there that doesn’t insult the intelligence of his audience, See: Coulter, Ann; Limbaugh, Rush. And he’s one of the only conservative voices out there that doesn’t ooze the same “with us or against us” rhetoric that Coulter and Limbaugh are famous for.

Today though, I think he’s way off base.

On the heels of Obama’s speech about Guantanamo Bay, Krauthammer wrote that, despite campaign promises to the contrary, Obama is finding that Bush administration policies actually had a lot of merit.

The genius of democracy is that the rotation of power forces the opposition to come to its senses when it takes over. When the new guys, brought to power by popular will, then adopt the policies of the old guys, a national consensus is forged and a new legitimacy established.

That’s happening before our eyes. The Bush policies in the war on terror won’t have to await vindication by historians. Obama is doing it day by day. His denials mean nothing. Look at his deeds.

Obama, assuredly, is convinced of nothing of the sort. What he is finding is that it’s awfully difficult to dismantle the Bush operation. Exit the rhetorical Obama. Enter Obama, the surprisingly pragmatic administrator. (I say surprisingly not as a skeptic, but as an observer: Obama the legislator, after all, was one of the most liberal in the Senate. There was nothing to indicate he wouldn’t continue as such as president.)

When the rhetorical Obama says, as he did today,

In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. We are cleaning up something that is – quite simply – a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis. … The problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.

he means it. The cynic (read: Krauthammer) would say he’s just saying this to appease a liberal base increasingly frustrated with his Guantanamo about-faces (detainee photos, military tribunals, etc.). But isn’t it far more likely that Obama the administrator is trying to close Guantanamo Bay, trying to be as transparent as possible, yet is finding those actions to have more strings attached than he’d anticipated?

Take the detainee photos. Yeah, Obama’s big on transparency. But one of the big arguments against torture is that it makes Americans, including our soldiers, less safe, either by justifying it to potential adversaries or by fueling anti-Americanism. Not releasing the photos was unpopular with the left, but understandable from a president who’s trying to balance security with transparency. Obama’s argument, right or wrong, is that transparency requires finding out what really happened and releasing memos to that effect, not necessarily showing what really happened — exactly the sort of thing that Obama and others against torture are worried about terrorists seeing. That doesn’t sound like someone who’s coming to appreciate Bush administration policies, but rather like someone who’s having difficulty tightroping in the aftermath thereof.

Not Obama, I know, but take the Democratic Senate pulling a 180 and refusing to fund Guantanamo’s closing. There’s probably a grain of truth in theories that some Senators — especially ones from more moderate states — are having second thoughts about releasing suspected terrorists with 2010 elections rapidly approaching, but I’ll bet you the Senate is just waiting until a more comprehensive plan emerges on what to do with all the detainees. Send them to Supermax prisons in the U.S.? Normal prisons? Ship ’em abroad? Release them into the wild? With all of the above options still on the table, would you authorize funding?

I’ll let the AP have the final word:

The developments on Capitol Hill came as the Pentagon said it still expects the prison at Guantanamo Bay to be closed by January 2010 as Obama has ordered.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters on Tuesday that he sees nothing to indicate the January 2010 deadline will be delayed.

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1 Response to “Krauthammer, and Obama’s Speech”


  1. 1 danup May 22, 2009 at 3:41 am

    You oughtta hit up some Ross Douthat, too. Douthat is my boy.


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About the Author

Brian Eason is a University of Missouri graduate with bachelor degrees in Journalism and Political Science. He has covered Congressional elections and local government for the Columbia Missourian and worked as a general assignment reporter for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Brian has also had articles published in Roll Call.

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