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.