On torture openness, Obama already politicking for 2012
June 10, 2009
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.