Friday, May 22, 2009

On Obama's Speech on National Security

Fred Barnes wrote an assessment of yesterday's Obama speech which, of the many posts about the speech that I've seen, was the one that was closest to what I was feeling as I was listening. I listened to the speech and then printed off the text because there were some moments there that I was just stunned to hear coming from an American president.

This is what Barnes said (emphasis mine):

"While insisting 'we need to focus on the future,' President Obama devoted much of his speech on terrorist detainees today to denouncing the policies of President Bush's administration. He faulted everyone in Washington for 'pointing fingers at one another,' yet pointed his own finger frequently, and critically, at the Bush administration. Obama said America's problems won't be solved 'unless we solve them together'--in a divisive and partisan speech certain to alienate Republicans and conservatives.

"If any president has gone to such lengths to attack his White House predecessor as Obama did today, I don't recall it. True, presidents have blamed the prior administration for problems they inherit, but I can't think of a president who did so as aggressively and with such moral preening as Obama."

Barnes nails exactly what I had been thinking as I listened. I have NEVER heard commentary of a previous president as petulant and as arrogant as Obama's yesterday. To me, it totally demeans the office. I can't in my wildest dreams imagine anyone with the class of say...Reagan, for example, doing such a thing.

As Barnes goes on to say, of course Obama is going to have differing policy than his predecessor. That's politics and is to be expected. Nobody faults Obama for that. Conservatives knew from the beginning that there were going to be differences. We all did. But he's been in office some four months now; it's time to quit campaigning against Bush. And it's time to quick looking back and pointing the finger which he is so quick to advise everyone else to stop doing as well.

Barnes points out that in his speech Obama said the Bush war on terrorism "likely created more terrorists around that world than it ever detained" but he offers no proof of this. I find this completely irresponsible and a dangerous thing to say. "Likely"? Not "certainly"? Not "We have evidence that..."? "Likely" indicates a huge assumption of unsubstantiated fact that is dangerous to assert as we fight two wars.

This was the paragraph of Obama's speech that got me:

"I knew when I ordered Guantanamo closed that it would be difficult and complex. There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we don't have the luxury of starting from scratch. We're 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, almost daily basis, and it consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country."

First of all, how can he call Gitmo a "misguided experiment"? The poor-pitiful-me-we-have-to-clean-up-after-the-Republicans tone is so wholly unpresidential and so lacking in leadership quality that it stuns me. He campaigned hard for this job. He knew that Guantanamo was an issue that he would be dealing with because he said during the campaign that he would close it. To whine about it being a part of his job now is simply incredible.

If closing Gitmo is such a huge problem for him on "an almost daily basis" then keep it open. The Attorney General has called it a model prison. The people that work there are trained to deal with terrorist prisoners. Their special dietary needs are already tended to, their religious needs, and their medical care. Obama can continue with his revamped military commissions, try the ones he can, and detain the ones he can't. The ONLY reason to close it is for a campaign promise and to presumably improve our moral standing. If Obama is such a great orator then he should be able to make the case worldwide for its continuance.

And this statement: "For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable...". I've got to disagree with that. How can he say that the Bush decisions for fighting terrorism were not effective? We have not been attacked since 9/11. That sounds pretty effective to me.

At any rate, I'll leave further parsing to others. My whole objection to the speech was that it was petulant, angry, false, self-serving, and in many cases, not true. An American president should lift his country up and should be proud of its successes. I know that Guantanamo is not a success in the eyes of everyone, but it's hard to argue with the fact that we had to detain terrorists somewhere and that, through a combination of decisions, we have been kept safe ever since.

For Obama to continue four months into his term to stand before the American people and continue to criticize President Bush is not leadership. It's whining. Leave it to the pundits and critics to bash away at whomever they wish. He needs to move on.


michilines said...

You are a newbie to blogging.

Don't try to reargue the war, torture, all that.

It's a losing cause.

You should have been blogging in 2006/2007, when our troops were being slaughteted.

Pity you started so late in the war.

snaggletoothie said...

Do you ever say anything relevant to the topic under discussion? Pat wrote a post about a speech by the president. Whether or not she was blogging two years ago has nothing to with the points she makes.
If you really believe her cause is lost and pointless why do you even bother? Your empty and unsupported claims of victory are just silly bravado and inappropriate in a rational discussion. Why continue to argue for a cause that you claim has already triumphed? You contradict yourself and prove by arguing that you feel the issue is still open to debate.
Why not act like an adult by reading what Pat wrote and commenting on that. Your childish and predatory personal attacks and insults say nothing about Pat. They just betray your pathological hate and intellectual shallowness.

Jordan said...

Trackback:Saturday Night Listening to SIRIUS Linkage

Mary said...

"For Obama to continue four months into his term to stand before the American people and continue to criticize President Bush is not leadership. It's whining."

No, it is not whining. Obama won the election, so we must expect new ideas. The whining is being done by Cheney. No one cared about him then; no one does now.
No one cares about Reagan either. I was old enough to vote for him; were you? Probably not. It's 2009; why bring up 30 years ago?

snaggletoothie said...

Sure, Mary, people care so little about Cheney that every MSM pseudo-news show is going out of their way to attack him and assassinate his character . They and other partisans such as yourself are doing everything they can to convince Americans that no one cares. But when the MSM goes into such full on attack mode, you can be sure that the person being attacked matters and has been effective in opposing the MSM orthodoxy.
And Obama is a constant whiner. He almost can't turn on his teleprompter without blaming Bush for something. He screwed by the numbers in his sophomoric attempt to close Gitmo. Then when his own incompetence and poor planning blew up in his face he blamed Bush instead taking responsibility for his own actions. He's a poor excuse for a leader. Since when is, "Gee, I just don't know what I'm going to do," a new idea?
The bald and unsupported assertion that no one cares is not an argument against anything. Even if you could prove that no one cares about the proposition in question, all you have is a bunch of feelings. The truth or lack thereof of the proposition remains unaddressed. And it is very possible that the truth about something could be very unpopular. But it would still be the truth regardless of your feelings.

Pat Austin said...

I DID vote for Reagan.
Does that make my point more credible, somehow?
What's YOUR point?
Mine is that he was a man with class and dignity, qualities worth emulating by both politicians AND blog commenters.

G. R. said...


"No one cares about Reagan either. I was old enough to vote for him; were you? Probably not"

I don't know if you are the same person who asked this question on another blog a couple of months ago.

If you are the same person who asked this question, you need to get another question.

Now let me ask you a question.

Were you old enough to have voted for Adams? I wasn't either. However, through books and that great mini-series that was recently on, I learned something about Adams. I think he was a man of character, and he was willing to put this country's needs over his political career, and he paid the price for it. He allowed himself to lose the second term rather than sell out his principles.

Why am I talking about Adams? Well, each president, regardless if you like them or not, leave an indelible mark on this country. And I don't believe the great Obama would have even thought about doing what Adams did. Obama would have blamed Bush, and others, while he continued tiptoeing through the political manure he's spreading.

And if you aren't the same person who asked the same question on another blog several months ago, you still need to come up with another question.

(I was barely around for Eisnehower, so that would make me old enough to have voted for Regan, too. And if he were alive and could run, I'd vote for him again.)

twolaneflash said...

I cannot listen to or watch this accidental President. Thanks for the excellent wrap-up of what I already knew he would be saying. I watched Cheney's speech. He was solid like those documents Obama used for staging. Obama is taking power over enemy combatants from the DoD and giving it to the DoJ, magically making the Gitmo detainees "criminal suspects". What a feeding frenzy of liberal lawyers this will create! Power to The Peeps.

G.R. said...

Mary said...
Not one of you who praises Regan was old enough to vote for him.

2/8/09 1:46 AM

I was right Mary, it was you!

I know, I know, You are probably thinking I don't have a life to actually go back four months to see what you posted on another blog site. Maybe I don't, but I rationalize it by calling it research.

BTW, you comment is pretty presumptuous

And for Michilines,

You haven't made any comment about your screw up on John Walker and John Walker Lindh. (See Huffpo Does PR for Uighurs)

Since you think John Walker Lindh (who was the twenty year old American captured in Afghanistan fighting along side the Taliban) was on our side, before he went over the Soviets. Or was it John Walker (Navy Warrant Officer who traveled to various Muslim countries to study Islam to become... Hell I don't know. I read your post and now I'm so confused.
Anyway it proves that you don't know squat about what you're talking about. Therefore, rendering you not much of an expert in matters of war, torture, and all that.