Cheney and Obama held their twin security/torture/GITMO speeches yesterday. Obama delivered his usual mesmerizing, self-centered speech, in which he complained about the "mess" that the previous adminstration had left him. As Politico points out, he's given this type of speech before. In his speech, which had been booked weeks in advance, Cheney argued that the anger over waterboarding is "recklessness cloaked in righteousness". But these speeches were not diametrically opposed, and the underlying truth may help reunite our country.
The speeches were remarkable in that, despite the polar opposites that they appear, both administrations have similar plans. And that is the basis for some national unity down the road. Further, both parties seem to be growing tired of Obama's tendency to say one thing and do another. In many cases, Obama speaks as a moderate and acts as a liberal. But here, Obama is trying to maintain his liberal cred while also keeping the country safe. But in actual fact, Obama sees the problem the same way that Bush saw it. Both want to release as many detainees as possible, but are having problems finding takers. Both are trying some of the detainees in US courts. Both think military tribunals should be used to handle more difficult cases. And both agree that some of these terrorists are too dangerous to release, and should be held indefinitely.
Supporting this point, the New York Times reported that Obama is still reserving the right to "preventive detention", holding terrorists (why are some people calling them inmates?) indefinitely. He's also reserved the right to use enhanced interrogation techniques, while still attacking Bush for using them. Obama's also on record saying he'll use rendition if necessary.
Right now, the left is increasingly angry and frustrated that Obama is continuing the Bush policies. The President is trying to mask his betrayal of the far left by attacking Bush, and saying he's only doing what he has to do in order to deal with this mess. But the left is so far unappeased. They've been condition to hate all of Bush's policies. How can they now support them, just because Obama is the one giving the orders? This is the opportunity.
For years, the liberals have been blinded by anger. But as they struggle to deal with Obama's use of Bush's tactics, the anger will be harder to maintain. How can they hate Bush but love Obama for the same thing? Obama's persuasive arguments in favor of detaining the worst of the worst will force liberals to reexamine their position. As the anger gives way to reason, many liberals will deny reason. But others will realize that their anger was misplaced. Some will turn away from their party in disgust, and join the GOP, others will help moderate the voices on the left, and seek to find real solutions to our problems.
As liberals struggle to reconcile their anger with Obama's positions, conservatives should be supportive. Don't gloat over the fact that we were right. Help liberals learn more about why we believe what we believe. Help them learn more about conservatism, and dispel the stereotypes propogated by the media.