The editors of The New York Times on Tuesday declared that, “In his Inaugural Address, President Obama gave them the clarity and the respect for which all Americans have hungered.”
And in that Address, there were these words from the new President himself: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”
Given all this emphasis on clarity, ideals, respect, and making honest choices, consider the grayness and evasion we’re getting instead:
First, take the case of the promised closing of Guantanamo. Below the headlines, that is being described in these terms by the Obama Administration:
When he ordered the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to be shut down, Mr. Obama put off the tough decision of what to do with the terrorism suspects there, a delay that his senior adviser, David Axelrod, attributed to the complexity of the issue — the same argument Mr. Bush used to keep the prison open.
“That is an enormously complicated situation,” Mr. Axelrod said Friday afternoon in an interview in his West Wing office, adding: “Obviously, you can’t solve problems overnight. But what you can do is signal a sense of motion, a sense of ferment and activity and direction. And I think that he is doing that.”
Of course, there is nothing complicated at all about Guantanamo. The United States illegally abducted scores of people it thinks are prone to terrorism and has illegally warehoused them for years, in the starkest possible contradiction to our alleged ideals and the simple rule of law.
Now, in order to live up to the rule of law, somebody has to admit that past violations of it have heightened ordinary Americans’ chances of being victims of future terrorism. Being illegally arrested and imprisoned does not generally calm one down.
Is Obama willing to show us clarity and respect and tell us the simple truth here?
Obviously not. Instead, we’re getting promise about the future designed to “signal a sense of motion, a sense of ferment and activity and direction.” Below the signals, there lies “the same argument Mr. Bush used to keep the prison open.”
And what about the appointment of a Raytheon Corporation lobbyist as the #2 overseer at the Pentagon?
“It appears to be a black-and-white case. I am unaware of what makes it so gray in the mind of President Obama,” said Winslow T. Wheeler, a former congressional budget staffer now with the Center for Defense Information, on the president’s choice of Raytheon lobbyist William J. Lynn to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Wheeler said it would take a “gigantic loophole” to squeeze Lynn, a top executive for defense giant Raytheon who registered to lobby for the company as recently as last June, into the office.
Obama’s executive order, which he signed Tuesday, would appear to ban lobbyists like Lynn from working in executive branch jobs related to the work of their former employers. Moreover, it would force appointees to recuse themselves from any business their former employers might have an interest.
Yes, it “would appear.”