Monday, May 18, 2009

The return of Tirangulation...

... from its eight-year engagement with the Clinton administration.

It some days seems that President Obama sees his foreign policy and civil liberties decisions as a basis for keeping his political opponents from successfully opposing his economic policies:

With President Obama’s policy shifts of the past week, he has found a new cheering section: Republican Congressmen. Senator Lindsey Graham (R - SC) in particular cheered the moves, lauding what he called “intelligent, well-reasoned decisions about trying to clean up the old system but not throwing it out.”

If one was to go by the amount of problems the president had with the old system during the campaign, the paucity of real cleaning is nothing short of remarkable. His pledge to leave Iraq within 16 months went up in smoke just days after he took office. At this point he seems determined to leave as many as 50,000 troops in the nation indefinitely.

But the moves of the past week were nothing short of monumental. His pledge of transparency vanished on Wednesday, when he reversed a Pentagon decision to release photos of detainee abuse. The move came under pressure from military officials and hawkish Congressmen, who feared that revealing the extent of the mistreatment would put the nation’s assorted wars at risk.

Just a day later, the other shoe dropped as officials reported, and the president later confirmed, he was reversing his own executive order calling for an end to military tribunals for detainees. The tribunals would resume with only cosmetic changes.

Adding insult to injury was the revelation that the administration is also pressing Congress to facilitate a new secret National Security Court system, which the president could use to keep detainees indefinitely, on American soil and without trial. Questions about whether the president might back off his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay also emerged, but with the likely ability to keep captives imprisoned for life without charges on American soil, the issue is largely moot.

And where are the Democrats, President Obama’s own party, in all of this? Several have expressed concerns with the president’s ever more hawkish policies, but by and large they’re taking a wait and see approach. To the extent that they have spoken out at all, Sen. Graham et al. have excoriated them as being driven by “hatred of former President Bush.” To the extent the “new” policies greatly resemble the previous administration’s, it seems that the Bush faction’s allegiance lies with the executive, and the real change is the growing reluctance of Democrats to even oppose the policies in theory.

It is important to remember that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama share an important characteristic that both George Bushs lacked: they are effective politicians. This is not an inherently bad thing: politicians get things done, where ideologues usually fail, particularly at governance.

But it is inherently dispiriting to discover that 90%+ of the supposed anti-war voices from 2004-2008 were really just anti-Bush voices that had no intention of continuing to raise the same issues once their party achieved power.

Yeah, on that front, elections really matter, don't they?


G Rex said...

Tirangulation: the act of strangling with a tire, as depicted in the unreleased photos from Gitmo.

Anonymous said...

Not to excuse Obama but to attempt to explain his recent reversal decisions, perhaps reality has set in, a reality of which he was unaware prior to several months of security briefings.

I had hoped that a man of his intellect and political talents could have figured out a way to continue to work his campaign commitments and aspirations which were so impressive.

We can guess that he is strongly influenced by his SoD, Intelligence folks and field commanders, which when at war is not too difficult to understand.

So yes, I am disappointed.

Perry Hood

PS: And then we heard/read his brilliant speech at Notre Dame. Obama is becoming a study in contrasts.

Tyler Nixon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyler Nixon said...


"Obama is becoming a study in contrasts."

Or, in plain English : a flip-flopping bullshit artist.

Honestly Perry - the fact that he gave what some would call a "brilliant speech" is nothing new.

Obama has given plenty of brilliant speeches that apparently were just navel-gazing nonsense, as his actions and policies betray so much of it.

I, too, am quite disappointed. Not just because he has gotten it wrong on so many key policies but because it proves he was full of it all along, a cypher at best.

At least the Bushian neocons never posed as anything but red-meat chomping warmongering militarists with little regard for constitutional niceties.

Obama's ability to lull everyone away from the reality of his actions is far more dangerous than was the blunt force approach of the Bushies.

Tyler Nixon said...

....well, not everyone...

Hube said...

Or, in plain English : a flip-flopping bullshit artist.

LOL!! Exactly.