Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama's First Political Crisis?

Hmm. Maybe Obama's idea about prosecuting Bush administration legal advisors on the "torture" issue wasn't the winner he thought it would be. Sure, the MSM will do everything it can to help get him through this mess but he's opened a real can of worms here.

* John Dickerson in the Obama-friendly Slate, "One More Time, Please: The President Is Having Trouble Straightening Out His Position On Torture." The article begins, "It may be time for an Obama do-over speech on the issue of torture. It's a form we've come to recognize—whether on the issue of bonuses for AIG executives or his relationship with his former pastor. He makes a declaration, the issue gets away from him, the political pressure builds, and he must rush in with a new declaration to contain the fallout."

* Ed Rollins on CNN, "Commentary: Obama Waffled on Torture -- and Looks Weak"

* Chris Stirewalt in the Washington Examiner, "Memo Release Puts Obama in Political Bind". President Barack Obama said that while he wanted to see the whole truth come out about what kind of interrogation tactics were used on the Sept. 11 plotters and other terrorists, he did not want to see the matter become “politicized.”

But by releasing four memos from the Bush Justice Department providing CIA agents with guidance on working over the bad guys, Obama has ensured that it will be a dominant political issue for months to come.

It would have been helpful for Obama if the memos were a little more shocking.

As it is, the Left remains convinced that there is more to learn about Dick Cheney’s dark arts. And those on the Right and in the middle are underwhelmed by the revelation of careful techniques being used on men who were trying to slaughter another 3,000 Americans immediately after 9/11.

While the president tries to gather support for polarizing proposals like global warming fees, nationalized medicine and the military buildup in Afghanistan, both the Left and the Right will eye Obama more suspiciously.

Obama may eventually be forced to choose between losing his liberal base or losing credibility with moderates and conservatives who hope the president proves to be serious about defending America.

So far, Obama seems to be leaning toward his base...

* James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal, "Ve Haf Vays of Making You Consent: The Authoritarian Impulse Behind the Push to Prosecute Ex-officials" "Barack Obama's critics have long worried that his placatory attitude would project American weakness, thereby emboldening enemies and making real that impression of weakness. That may happen (or be happening), but what seems to have happened first is that President Obama's own weakness has emboldened his domestic allies on the Angry Left. As a result, the administration seems to be on the verge of a political crisis, and the country is at risk of a constitutional crisis..."