fredag 22 maj 2009

Obamas tal får skeptiska kommentarer

Dagen efter sitt tal om terrorismen tycks Obamas tal mötas av skeptiska röster i kommentatorspalterna. Nästan alla av dagens artiklar på RealClearPolitics som handlar om ämnet uttrycker en viss skepsis mot Obamas argument:

Mike Memoli skriver i RealClearPolitics egen analys att han ansåg att Obamas tal var uppdelat i två halvor: den första halvan där han förklarade den situation han fått ärva, och de steg han tagit för att fixa till de misstag han menade begicks av sin föregångare.

I den andra halvan av talet försökte han förklara att han - trots svårigheterna - tänkte leva upp till sitt kampanjlöfte att stänga Guantanamobasen.

Memoli citerar Obama och skriver sedan:

"We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates," he[Obama] said - the closest yet to an utterance of "war on terror." "We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process, in checks and balances and accountability."

What was striking about this portion of the speech was how he seemed to at times shift the heat of scrutiny off of him and back on the Bush administration. Notably, he argued that the whole debate being had now was not a result of his decision to close Guantanamo Bay, but in fact to open it in the first place."

Han avslutar lite senare sin artikel så här:

"It isn't immediately clear how the speech was received, particularly since it was immediately followed by a rebuttal from former Vice President Cheney. But consider this statement from Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) as a clue, from the pool reporter following the president today: "He said he doesn't want to look backwards then spends all that time trashing the Bush administration."

Steve Benen skriver för Washington Monthly en sammanfattning: av Obamas tal, där han lägger fram Obamas konkreta idéer - men avslutar sedan med att säga att Obama var väldigt vag när det gällde detaljerna:

"He was a little vague on the details. I'm not surprised -- Obama was describing a system of indefinite detention without charges. He added that his administration would submit such a system to checks and balances, and "will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution."

Good luck with that."

John Podhoretz skriver för CommentaryMagazine:

"There is much to say about President Obama’s speech today, but one thing especially jumped out at me—his accusation that the Bush administration’s post-9/11 response was the result of an excess of fear: “Our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight,” he said.... But fear was an entirely responsible response to September 11. Indeed, it was, in some ways, the only responsible response... It was necessary to be guided by fear in those months, because fear was a means whereby we could envision the worst possible scenarios and begin to think of ways to guard against them. Fear, in this sense, was the handmaiden of foresight.

...It is appalling that the new president of the United States, a few months shy of eight years since attacks that were not followed by a second wave, should speak of his predecessor’s administration and its brilliant efforts to thwart mass killings as though its leaders had been afraid only of the vacuum cleaner. We can only pray that President Obama will not have cause, due to disasters born in part from a lack of the prudent fear he dismisses so cavalierly, to look back and rue his words."

På sajten WhoRunsGov skriver Greg Sargent på sin blogg följande mer tillmötesgående kommentar till Obamas tal, men där han likväl menar att Obamas tal i sig själv visar att bollen nu spelas av Republikanerna, och att Obamas tal förmodligen inte gjorde att Demokraterna i Kongressen kommer att gå tillbaka till hans fålla:

"The national security speech Barack Obama just wrapped up is a sign that he has returned to persuasion mode with a vengeance... Obama argued that torture is not only wrong, but is also ineffective. He practically mocked the idea that we should fear housing terrorists in maximum security prisons in America. He didn’t shy away from arguing that the law, ultimately, is our most important source of strength...

...Obama’s return to persuasion mode is itself an acknowledgment that Republicans have succeeded in framing the debate and that the GOP attacks were creating deep consternation among Congressional Dems. One interesting thing to watch will be whether Obama’s speech reassures Dems in Congress or whether they persist in believing that they remain vulnerable to the GOP attacks. Our bet is the latter."

Jim Geraghty skriver för National Review följande:

"Obama's policy changes are a promise, and a vague one. He thinks the new policies can work better than what we've been doing, but he doesn't know for sure; he can't know for sure. Both he and Cheney used the phrase "hard choices" or "hard calls" which suggests that this debate ought to be proceeding with a bit more modesty. If the calls are so hard, then it's difficult to argue that the Bush-Cheney approach was reckless, no?"

New York Times skriver att Obamas försök att bland ihop två skilda förhållningssätt förmodligen inte kommer att göra någon part glad, och ge honom få riktiga politiska vänner:

"As President Obama defends his national security strategy, he faces a daunting challenge. He must convince the country that it is in safe hands despite warnings to the contrary from the right, and at the same time persuade the skeptical left that it is enough to amend his predecessor’s approach rather than abandon it.

...“Both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right,” Mr. Obama said. “The American people are not absolutist, and they don’t elect us to impose a rigid ideology on our problems. They know that we need not sacrifice our security for our values, nor sacrifice our values for our security, so long as we approach difficult questions with honesty and care and a dose of common sense.”

In his rebuttal speech across town, former Vice President Dick Cheney in effect argued that absolutism in the defense of liberty was no vice.

“In the fight against terrorism there is no middle ground, and half measures keep you half-exposed,” Mr. Cheney said shortly after Mr. Obama’s address. “You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy.”

Artikeln avslutas senare:

...Sarah Mendelson, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who led a commission study that urged the closing of Guantánamo, said the fusion of Bush and anti-Bush policies was untenable. “They’re [Obama-administrationen] literally trying to combine these paradigms,” Ms. Mendelson said. “And that means nobody will be happy.”

Wall Street Journal försöker hålla tonen lite mer neutral, men ger inte Obama några lovord, utan förklarar mer att hans tal egentligen bestod av tre tal där han försökte tillfredställa olika politiska flanker - medan Cheney levererade ett rakt tal (artikeln lämnar sen öppet för läsaren att själv avgöra vad som vilket tal som var bäst):

"Mr. Cheney gave one speech, a remarkably focused, blistering attack on those who criticize the Bush administration's methods for detaining and interrogating terror suspects.... Meanwhile, Mr. Obama, facing the trickier task of selling a policy to both parties, really gave three speeches wrapped in one. His first was meant to address critics on the right... The second speech was to those on the left... The third speech was directed to Americans in the middle, to whom Mr. Obama offered assurances that he is searching for a sensible middle ground that will keep terror suspects out of circulation while also honoring American values.

In fact, though, the most basic difference between the Obama and Cheney presentations came on the question of whether such a middle ground is even possible in the struggle against radical Islamists.

Mr. Obama portrayed the search for the proper strategy for handling terror suspects as a debate between those on the left who "make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism" and those on the right who argue that "anything goes" in fighting terrorism."And both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right," he said.

Mr. Cheney would have none of it. "The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism," he said. "They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum....But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground. And half-measures keep you half-exposed."

...As he began his remarks, Mr. Cheney declared: "Today, I'm an even freer man" than while in office to speak his mind. Boy, did he prove it."

I en annan artikel på RealClearPolitics skriver David Harsanyi om "rädsla":

"In a speech defending his detainee plan this week, President Barack Obama brandished his now-famous Spock-like wisdom by claiming that "our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight" after 9/11.

Whether you agree with the president's account of the nation's post-9/11 policy or not, you still might ask yourself two questions.

First off: Is it always wrong to make decisions based on fear?"

Han förklarar senare varför rädsla inte alltid nödvändigtvis är fel - och att det är en stor skillnad mellan en rädsla för verkligheten och en irrationell rädsla. Huruvida Bush sedan agerade smart eller inte utifrån rädslan är en annan sak. Men Obamas sätt att framföra saken var hycklande. Harsanyi skriver:

"Still, admitting that fear can drive you to smart decisions doesn't mean that the Bush administration's subsequent use of fear led to prudent policy. That is up for a separate debate. Obama's framing of the issue, however, was hypocritical.

Which brings me to the second query: What president doesn't couple policy and fear? Obama, after all, has been as masterful as anyone in using dread to ram through ideologically driven legislation and silencing political opposition.

During the "debate" over the government's "stimulus" plan, the president claimed that the consequences of not passing his plan would mean the "recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."

Han beskriver sedan andra frågor där Demokraterna använder sig av rädsla för att driva igenom sin politik - och inte minst rädslan för den globala uppvärmningen:

Let's just point to admired professional alarmist James Hansen, who made the panic-stricken assertion recently that "President Obama's administration is the last chance to avoid flooded cities, species extinction and climate catastrophe."

Thus, logic tells us, to oppose egregious CAFE standards, cap and trade nationalizing of energy, or any plan the Obama administration supports in the area of the environment is akin to being a nihilist hellbent on destroying planet Earth.

Talk about decision-making "based upon fear rather than foresight."

Surely, at the time of 9/11, the fear of terrorism was at least as tangible and real as any long-term environmental consequence.

Of course, reasonable -- and highly unreasonable -- people can disagree on these issues. But let's not pretend either party is innocent when it comes to using fear to get its way."

Vermonts senator Patrick Leahy skriver i följande artikel en maning till att stödja Obamas GITMO-politik, men den artikeln refererar inte till Obamas tal eller till Dick Cheney - och tycks därför vara skriven innan talen, och mer ett stöd för Obamas GITMO-politik i största allmänhet.

Överlag tycks de flesta kommentarer vara smått, om inte kritiska, så inte heller speciellt entusiastiska över Obamas tal. Fler kommentarer lär komma, och helt säkert finns det många som tycker att Obamas tal var bra. Men jag har svårt att tro att Obama fick den respons som han hade hoppats på. Och även om få kommer att ge Dick Cheney några större lovprisningar (helt enkelt för att han är Dick Cheney), så är bara det faktum att han i sitt tal direkt efter president Obamas eget tal, gav kraftfulla argument mot Obama som knappt några kommentatorer argumenterade emot - ett bakslag för Obama-administrationen.

Det ironiska anser jag vara följande: Obama vann stor politisk mark genom att som kandidat öppet och friskt kritisera Bushadministrationens politik ur alla möjliga perspektiv (som han då faktiskt inte kunde speciellt mycket om). Bushadministrationen förlorade dock den marken pg a att de då i princip hade en patologisk oförmåga att försvara sig. Nu när de dock gör detta, så vinner de uppenbart mark - medan Obama i en sakdiskussion där kampanjretorik räcker lika lite till som äggkastning gör när motståndaren faktiskt vaknar och börjar försvara sig - tycks förlora den mark som tidigare gavs honom gratis.

Se även tidigare inlägg:

Cheney vs Obama - en första opinionsundersökning 20090522

Cheney vinner debatten mot Obama 20090522

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