April 24, 2009

Naivety paints Obama into yet another corner

Its been a long while coming but things have finally started going right for the Republicans. The latest Rasmussen polls showing Obama's ratings slide, while at odds with Gallup (65%), has some support in the Pew numbers which show some polarization. More importantly, it seems that the Tea Parties have shaken the GOP out of its doldrums.

In a brilliant maneuver Republican Pete Hoekstra, has potentially built some momentum on those numbers by calling out the Obama administration on it's foolish waffling on the issue of interrogations and criminal investigations. As reported in Hot Air, Hoekstra has demanded full disclosure on the interrogation issue;

Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, accuses Obama of dishonesty by selectively releasing memos from the program — and he accuses Congress of cowardice by not admitting their own role in sanctioning the interrogations. He wants names and dates made public in this debate, a prospect that will likely chill enthusiasm on the Hill.

A challenge for full disclosure is a terrific tactical move. Either the White House and Democrats don't go for full disclosure and they look dishonest, or say they can't do it and then appear politically motivated and manipulative by having released only the part that benefits them, or they do and free up GOP targets from prosecution because of the validity of their claims or else lump in many Democrats as having known the issues during these meetings and still having supported the interrogations. Or, the Republicans are bluffing and are guilty. But if they were guilty I'm sure they wouldn't be as obtuse as Rod Blagojevich and call a bluff that really isn't a bluff.

A portion of Hoekstra's opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal speaks to the hypocrisy ;

...last week Mr. Obama overruled the advice of his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors by releasing the details of the enhanced interrogation program. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has stated clearly that declassifying the memos will make it more difficult for the CIA to defend the nation.

It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.
President Obama has flip flopped on this and it takes away his options. He could have gone one way or the other and left himself more openings, but now his only out becomes ignoring the whole mess and hoping it goes away. This is the path of least resistance and is one he is prone to take. It will help him overall because many Americans are as head in the sand as the President, especially on this. But it will infuriate the fringe who will further start to view Obama as part of the supposed war machine or at least just another political opportunist. And that means eroded support from the far left. But again, it's the path of least resistance for him and his poll numbers.

Alternately he could hang Pelosi et al. out to dry. Its a gamble but one that might pay off as he comes across as transparent and bi-partisan. But it would alienate a good portion of his support in Congress. That's risky.

Obama's pontificate-before-you-think approach has painted him into a corner on this and he's where he deserves to be because he's made the country less safe. Whether he can squirm his way out is yet to be seen - with a compliant press he'll have an easier time than most in trying to do that. What's important as conservatives to take away from this are two things; (1) keep the pressure on and (2) Pete Hoekstra deserves some credit for realizing that there was an opportunity to point out hypocrisy here and he pounced on it. Good for him.

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