June 2, 2009

A question about a post-Obama America

Is it too early to start asking questions like this? We're only a few months into the Obama Presidency, and I'm already starting to wonder about certain aspects of a post-Obama America. One question in particular has been playing on my mind.

Before the President recently decided not to release the photos of prisoner detention 'abuse', he was seriously considering the release of those same photos, despite the potential impacts to national security, not to mention stability in Iraq. It took the advice of several of his staff to change his mind. And apparently even more - McClatchy is reporting that Nouri Al Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq, had to go "ballistic". In the article, Maliki talked about Iraq erupting with violence. No doubt that factor weighed in on the President's decision. But more importantly, the upcoming Iraqi referendum on 2011 troop withdrawals could have been sabotaged by the photos. If that were to happen the United States might have had to withdrawal by the summer of 2010. That would not go over well in the mid-term Congressional elections for Democrats, especially if it resulted in chaos in Iraq.

The point is that President's decision making is decidedly political. More importantly, the President is politically sympathetic to the likes of the ACLU. The same ACLU who fought to have those damaging photos released, despite the potentially devastating impacts to the United States' national security and indeed it's national interest.

Now I'm not saying the President is not interested in protecting the national interests. He is, but he sees those interests through an entirely different prism than mainstream America. He may not be perceived as out-of-the-mainstream, but he certainly isn't in it. His view of mainstream America is the same view held by Kos, the ACLU and those folks at the Huffington Post.

Which brings me to my first question about a post-Obama America;

If President Obama was nearly willing to spill sensitive information as President, when removed from the constraints of the office, won't he be more likely to share state secrets with those who do not have the best interests of the country at heart?

If the President believes that the ACLU is what's best for America, why wouldn't he be willing to share some inside dirt with them, to help them along on their supposed quest for openness and fairness? I'm not talking about the truly sensitive information that Democrats are now privy to (and no doubt Republicans were privy to, under Bush). I'm talking about things that would be best kept quiet but based on the President's actions so far, he might be willing to share later on with his political co-horts.

For example, his willingness to outline that waterboarding had been on the interrogation menu but now it's off limits. If he truly believed that was important, he could have changed it without letting the terrorists know they won't have to face it during interrogations. Terrorists now know that they'd better harden themselves up to be ready to face some seriously harsh language during interrogations. Their mothers might be insulted. The point is that there was no reason to make that bit of information public other than to look good for his base. Politics over national interest. That's a bad, bad place to be coming from.

Is it too early to ask the question? Perhaps. The American public felt that it was okay for Obama to learn the Presidency on the job. So maybe after 4 years, his views will be better tempered by his experience. But as to whether it's a fair question to ask, my answer is this:

It's just a question.

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