Obama’s Rising Tide Lifts Bush’s Boat
A couple of months ago, the mainstream media was snickering because
a national survey of liberal historians had rated George W. Bush to be
among the least successful of all American presidents, mostly on the
basis of his conduct in the war against Islamic terrorists. Given
Obama’s adoration by the media, his wholesale reversal of nearly every
one of his foreign policy campaign promises, and his Xeroxing of Bush’s
war strategy, Bush should reach… oh, about #2 on the presidents’ list
by the end of Obama’s tenure.
Candidate Obama wailed for years about Bush’s war in Iraq and
promised to remove all troops by March 2009. The latest plan, which
President Obama scrawled on a cocktail napkin at one of his Wednesday
night White House soirees, is to remove them by August 2010 and leave
up to 50,000 troops in place for security purposes—and if you believe
those dates and numbers won’t be extended further as “conditions change
on the ground,” you probably voted for Obama. Admittedly, “Obama lied,
kids died” doesn’t have quite the same ring, but I think if Bush had
pulled a fast one like this, we would have heard a few more complaints
about his mendacity.
Obama formerly countered the spectacularly successful surge in Iraq,
claiming that there was no way it could work—then turned around as
President and implemented something in Afghanistan that starts with ‘s’
and rhymes with ‘urge’ but is definitely not a surge.
As Senator, Obama rejected special funding measures for U.S.
anti-terror military conflicts—then, while president, asked Congress
for an additional $83 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; you
know, the ones we were fighting all along. On the campaign trail,
Obama whined about the cost of war and swore that funding would not be
approved without benchmarks; when Congress’s bill came to a vote, Obama
asked that the benchmarks be removed.
Obama once complained that Predator drone air attacks on suspected
terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan were killing civilians; as
President, he ramped up use of this targeted killing tactic at a higher
rate and with more civilian casualties than under Bush.
Obama at one point criticized the Patriot Act, including its
provisions allowing warrantless wiretapping and obtaining suspects’
financial, travel, and telecommunications records without their
knowledge; now he supports renewing the act.
Obama previously opposed the use of the “state secrets doctrine” to
prevent the required disclosure of evidence in court that would harm
national security; in several cases stemming from the previous
administration’s surveillance and interrogation practices, Obama’s
Justice Department has invoked that very doctrine to prevent the
disclosure of evidence.
Obama used to resist the practice of rendition, or capturing
terrorist suspects and sending them to a third country for
interrogation; recently he vowed to continue the practice.
At one time, Obama spoke out against the use of enhanced
interrogation techniques on high-level terrorist suspects. Recently,
however, he set up a committee to look into whether CIA interrogators
should be allowed looser standards than military interrogators—i.e., he
left the door open for these techniques to be used again if he deems
necessary. He rejected the call to establish a Truth Commission into
the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques and the prosecution
of those who approved or implemented them. When Nancy Pelosi claimed
the CIA lied to her about the use of these techniques, Obama did not
publicly support her, and allowed CIA director Leon Panetta to release
a memo contradicting her claim.
In the past, Obama contested the practice of detaining terrorist
suspects without trial; yet his Justice Department filed a brief
claiming that his administration can hold for an indefinite period of
time the following: Al Qaeda members, Taliban members, “associated
forces,” and anyone who “substantially” supports them, which includes
about half of Congress. Federal judge Reggie Walton slyly mocked the
Obama administration’s arguments as drawing “metaphysical distinctions”
between his and Bush’s policy that were “of a minimal if not ephemeral
Obama wrung his hands over denial of habeas corpus to terrorists in
Guantanamo but has upheld the Bush position on denying habeas corpus
regarding detainees’ conditions of confinement in Afghanistan’s Bagram
prison, which is sort of a Guantanamo Express.
More recently, Obama revived military tribunals for Gitmo detainees
after having called them an “enormous failure” and sworn to end them
(the tribunals, not the detainees).
Finally, last week Obama changed his mind and decided he would
oppose the release of photos documenting abuse of detainees at Abu
It shouldn’t be this way for the former Bush administration. After
seven-and-a-half years of doing the right but unpopular thing,
suffering precipitous drops in their approval ratings, and enduring
uninformed screaming from every corner of the media about their
Nazi-like tendencies, Bush and Cheney shouldn’t be dependent for their
legacy on the eleventh-hour conversion of an irresponsible,
wet-behind-his-big-ears neophyte who isn’t adult enough to serve as
Commander in Chief. The Bush policies should have been praised all
along for keeping us safe, and any candidate who ran headfirst against
them should have been defeated in a landslide.
But at least Bush’s “rehabilitation” is happening sooner than we
could have hoped—just several months into the subsequent
administration. Any honest commentator must admit that it is happening
squarely on the back of the feckless Obama.