FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Maybe Running a Presidential Campaign Wasn’t “Executive Experience” After All
Comes now the latest in a long line of muddleheaded and contradictory decisions by the Obama administration that illustrates that Barack Obama really has no idea what the heck he is doing, except to the extent that he realizes that he can’t do most of the things he promised to do on the campaign trail:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on U.S. soil — indefinitely and without trial — as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The proposal being floated with members of Congress is another indication of President Barack Obama’s struggles to establish his counter-terrorism policies, balancing security concerns against attempts to alter Bush-administration practices he has harshly criticized.
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Defense Secretary Robert Gates, at a hearing last month, hinted at the administration’s deliberations, saying that there were “50 to 100 [detainees] probably in that ballpark who we cannot release and cannot trust, either in Article 3 [civilian] courts or military commissions.”
Now, I will say this about Barack Obama. Although his economic policies may charitably be described as “leaning socialist,” unlike many of his supporters (I’m looking at you, Glenns Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan), he apparently does not actually harbor a secret (or not so secret) loathing of America. Accordingly, when he is confronted with the decision of whether to elevate sensitivity toward captured terrorists who are in no way entitled to Constitutional or Geneva Convention protections above the safety of the American people, he makes the right choice at least half the time.
The problem, of course, is that although his intentions appear to be to the good, he hasn’t the foggiest notion of how to go about implementing them, nor the moral courage to forthrightly admit his past errors in judgment. You see, we attempted to point out on numerous occasions during 2008 that it mattered that Obama had never run anything in his life. “Not so,” responded Obama. “I have run my campaign.” Welcome to the difference between running a campaign and running a government, Presient Obama.
You see, if you run a campaign without regard to what happens after you get elected, running a campaign is a relatively easy proposition, especially with respect to issues like GTMO. You run a focus group, find out that people have come to associate “Guantanamo” with negative feelings, and promise that there will be no more “Guantanamo.” Presto! Lather, rinse, and repeat, and you’re elected! Obama proved himself to be the master of determining what people don’t like and promising to eliminate those things. However, running a government means that you not only have to figure out what people don’t like and promise to eliminate it, you have to actually implement a workable alternative if you’re going to follow through with your promise. At this, Obama has proven himself to be a … may I say it?… miserable failure.
And so, despite the fact that Obama promised, even immediately after inauguration, that closing GTMO would be one of his Administration’s first priorities, it is clear that Obama still does not have the foggiest idea what to do about it. He appears to be more or less committed to actually closing the physical facility in Guantanamo bay (in order to give the appearance of keeping his campaign promise), but he has realized that the thing which made GTMO most objectionable to his most dedicated supporters, i.e., indefinite detention away from communication with the outside world, is necessary to the security of this country. So what does he do now? The answer is evident: he has no clue.
Of course, GTMO is but one of the many things that Obama promised to make magically disappear while he was on the campaign trail, along with unemployment, people without health insurance, and nasty rich people who make over $250K a year. He is finding out, however, that it is much harder to do any of these things than it is to say them. So hard, in fact, that he doesn’t really know where to begin. Of course, a more experienced (and wise) person would know either how to begin accomplish some of these things, or would have known not to promise them in the first place. Unfortunately, the American are almost always willing to be suckered by a smooth talker on the TV.
At least once.