On torture openness, Obama already politicking for 2012

Is Obama a Bush-Cheneyite when it comes to keeping secrets? I don’t think so.  I think Obama is a master multi-tasker who outthinks and out-plans  the typical politician. On his torture disclosure postion some of his supporters have been apoplectic. Not me.
Obama wants eight years. He doesn’t want to spend months campaigning vigorously through 2012 to eek out a 51% victory. He knows that to assure a landslide he needs to win over the mostly southern NRA-NASCAR voters by proving that he’s not an ACLU softie.
He also knows that release of torture memos, while it will have some anti-American propaganda, won’t lead to a wave of terrorist attacks. 
He knows that Bush and Cheney will bear the brunt of condemnation for turning decent boy next door American’s into torturers.
He wants us to know the truth, but he can’t say so directly. 
Why has fought the establishment of a congressional interrogation panel?
It’s because this savvy lawyer knew all along that his his goals would be achieved. 
He knew that  there were tenuous legal grounds to justify keeping most of the torture information secret and he knew that lawsuits would force the disclosure he really wanted.
Lamenting liberals need not to worry. Obama may not be wearing an ACLU pin but he knew they, and many other advocacy groups which most of us have never heard of, like the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, would be fighting for disclosure.
That is exactly what is happening:
Already in new responses to lawsuits, the C.I.A. has agreed to release information from two previously secret sources: statements by high-level members of Al Qaeda who say they have been mistreated, and a 2004 report by the agency’s inspector general questioning both the legality and the effectiveness of coercive interrogations.
The Qaeda prisoners’ statements, made at tribunals at the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were previously excised from transcripts of the proceedings, but they will be at least partly disclosed by this Friday, according to a court filing. The report by the inspector general, whose secret findings in April 2004 led to a suspension of the C.I.A. interrogation program, will be released by June 19, the Justice Department said in a letter to a federal judge in New York.  New York Times

I don’t believe Obama didn’t anticipate this.
I think this is the outcome he desired.
He knows that in 2011 if he’s well ahead in the polls the strongest Republican candidates will pass by that election and concentrate on 2016. This leaves the nomination fight to 25%-ers like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Obviously he doesn’t want to spend much of the last quarter of his first term running for his second term.
For political purposes he can afford to enrage liberals who will forgive him when they see he never really betrayed them. 
I think that this "say one thing and believe another" duplicity also applies to same sex marriage and "don’t ask, don’t tell" in the military. 
He’ll express mild opposition to such hot button social conservative issues.
He’ll hate doing all of this because he really does believe in the openness in government which he campaigned on, really believes everyone should have the right to marry and that homosexuals should be able to serve without restriction in the military.
While liberals and progressives may feel that these issues are of vital importance and Obama should go to the mat on them, he knows that there are likely to be far more important decisions he will have to make which will have the far right screaming about how liberal he is. 
He needs to accumulate credits with the more reasonable right of center voters who will make the difference between a landslide and a squeaker in 2012.
Sadly, this is the kind of political subterfuge sometimes needed to win an election. Some politicians brush it off but I think Obama is troubled by it  on a personal level and feels it’s a necessary evil, even a sin.
Late at night after a hard day of sinning for political expediency I hope, for his mental and spiritual  health, that he can share with Michelle his ambivalence about having to do this. 
Perhaps she can comfort him by suggesting he can hate the sin, but he needs to love the sinner as much as she does.


  1. history guy

    So what you are saying is that Obama is simply another political hack who will say or do anything to get reelected, regardless of morality or the best interest of the nation.
    Of course this fits with his escalating conflict in the Middle East, lack of condemnation of the Patriot Act, and continuation of the “War on Drugs.”
    “He’ll hate doing all of this because he really does believe in the openness in government which he campaigned on.” But he is not even attempting to follow through. My grandmother would have said, “then the man is a LIAR.” Which is just another word for politician.

  2. ClassicLiberal

    It’s been said, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

  3. Hal Brown

    It’s been said, "if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything."

    …I don’t understand whether you are referring to me, or to Obama.

    I stand for a lot. My political philosophy is probably mostly that of a contemporary (welfare state FDR) liberal in contrast to yours as a classic (Adam Smith laissez-faire economic)  liberal. 

    Obama stands for a lot, and is probably a  contemporary liberal, but he is also pragmatic enough to know he has to be has to be able position himself to make the changes he want to, some of which will take eight years.

  4. ClassicLiberal

    At this point our President has not declared himself a moral relativist, although his behavior across the wide spectrum of societal issues he has addressed suggests so – to put the best spin on things. Many would have less favorable adjectives by which to describe him (see above).

    In contrast to relativism at many levels, classic liberalism provides many legitimate guideposts, transcending purely economic concerns and having broadly-defined liberty as its overarching goal. In our national context, the U.S. constitution lists life, liberty, and property as principles on which to base our country and its culture, such principles being the heart of classic liberalism. As described elsewhere, ours is intended as the home of the brave, land of the FREE.

    Alternately, the type of moral relativism of which you speak has little to do with liberty or liberalism of the classical kind. Ends justify means, equality of opportunity is overwhelmed by equality of outcomes, i.e., a substitute goal that respects no individual rights but instead demands fealty.

    The moral (cultural or societal) relativism used to rationalize this assault on individual liberty is the soft tyranny of the democracratic majority. Laws are open to interpretation, where circumstances are more important than statutes, private contracts are open to governmental disruption, and politicians can bend the truth in order to enhance their re-electability. In effect, there are no definable morals or ethics.

    In the end the contemporary liberal must be seen not as pragmatic, but rather as the opportunist who has discovered a flock of sheep on which to feast. A larcenous fox if you will.

  5. griff

    Is this how Obam’s being repackaged for the flock these days? Oh, he’s light years ahead of everyone else, both morally and intellectually.

    Keep the scam going by always promising that change will come at some point in the future. Isn’t that how a Ponzi scheme works?

    Just keep investing, and the big payoff will come.
    Just keep investing, and the big payoff will come.

    A man-god who doesn’t waste his precious time with the trivialities and travails of the common mortals that serve him, his adoring slaves.

    I don’t know what’s worse, that they’re trying to sell this line or that you’ve bought it.

  6. John H Kennedy Denver CO

    I hope you are right. I think you may be.

    But I also believe Obama wants all of we liberals/progressives to not give up or go silent on getting Accountability for Bush and Cheney and their torture advocating appointee Lawyers.

    I think that like FDR, Obama wants us to
    Keep the “Prosecution” topic alive
    and in front of the voters on the web
    AND to
    Keep The Public Pressure On Obama
    to Prosecute, so that He will have the political cover he needs to do it when the time comes.

    That could mean we may have to hang in there for a few more years.

    Ugh! Been doing this for 7 years. Weary!

    But we have to do it.
    Obama needs us to not quit now.
    Believe in Obama and
    Keep up the pressure to Prosecute.

    HELP Push our basically Good President
    To Enforce Our Federal Anti-Torture Laws.

    SIGN THE PETITION To Prosecute the Bush-Cheney Torturers
    in the Republican Extremist Party


    Over 250,000 have signed, Join them and call yourself a Patriot

    “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” James Madison


  7. Hal Brown

     I think you’re right on this (the basic point of my column )

    But I also believe Obama wants all of we liberals/progressives to not give up or go silent on getting Accountability for Bush and Cheney and their torture advocating appointee Lawyers.

    …. I think he wants this (his cake) but doesn’t want to have to eat it in public. 

    Like I wrote, he’s about as savvy a pol as they come and certainly knows how the liberal progressives wont let this go. He has to know how this will probably play out.

    He just wants to make sure his fingerprints aren’t all over it so the right won’t be able to use it against him in 2012.

    I don’t think we’ll see the true liberal Obama until he wins in 2012. Until then he does count on us ACLU types to do some of the "dirty work" for him.

    He’s a man with an eight year plan.



  8. erinys

    Why on earth should it matter to a person of principle whether they stay in office eight years? If your principles tell you that you should do something, then you find a way to do it now and bed*mned the next election.

    Plus, with this kind of logic, in 2012 it will become “oh, things are still so bad, we can’t really do anything liberal because we need a Democrat to be elected president in 2016.” And so on….