Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coming Soon To an Executive Office Near You!

For those of you who voted for Obama, you need to realize that he's just made his first decisions as Commander in Chief (Elect).

They're weak, folks. And I'm not just being snarky. I'm never snarky.

I'm referring to his announced intentions, reported in Politico and elsewhere, to order the closing of the detention camp at Guantanamo, and other “dramatic gestures aimed at reversing President Bush’s accumulation of executive power.” (“44 to reverse 43's executive orders.”)

I consider it a bad sign that, as Commander-in-Chief Elect, Obama’s first actions include publicly declaring his intention to weaken the office of the President--whether it’s vis-à-vis Congress, or vis-à-vis our still very determined jihadist enemies.

You see folks, he's not weakening George W. Bush. Bush will be a private citizen at 12:01 pm next Wednesday. Obama is announcing that he's weakening his own powers, and he's doing it before he has even assumed them.

Rather than firmly grasping the reins of leadership the Constitution intends the President to hold, Obama seems to want the likes of Reid, Pelosi, Leahy, Frank, Conyers, and Maxine Waters holding them with him—collectively riding off in all directions at once, especially away from the battle.

The whole purpose of executive authority is to mitigate the blunt reality that Congress is incapable of acting with the gravity, speed, and singleness of purpose needed in times of war. And this goes triple for a Congress with a Democratic majority. The duplicity of Congressional Democrats leading up to the Iraq War authorization demonstrates how craven hacks like John Edwards, John Kerry, and others were perfectly capable of bombastically supporting the overthrow of a dictatorship when the decision was popular, and then were shrieking a year later that it was the stupidest and most deceitful foreign policy decision since man began keeping written records of his deeds.

This is why the Constitution vests the executive with command of the military. (Yes, I know, Congress has the authority to declare war—but this is a power it hasn’t exercised, I’m pretty certain, since 1941. Nor, for that matter, are declarations of war much heard of these days anywhere else, either, regardless of whether they should be or not. When bin Laden declared war on us in 1996, no one paid attention).

Andrew McCarthy characterizes Obama’s empty Guantanamo gesture this way:
The Guantánamo ‘executive’ order should instead be called a ‘symbolic’order since it is not intended to execute anything. Guantanamo will continue operating just as it has. Mr. Obama’s stated desire to close it at some future point is the same desire members of the Bush administration have been stating for some time.

The Politico writers hit a key point when they describe Obama’s moves as “dramatic gestures.” But dramatic gestures are not political leadership, but political theater.

Grasp the centrality of political theater to the governing style of Democrats, and they will never really surprise you again.

But, you say, Obama’s “dramatic gestures” will also include “ending the torture of detainees.” That's substance isn't it?

No. It's only more theater. The thing is, if we aren’t presently “torturing” detainees in any meaningful sense, i.e., as defined under law by Congress, (and even waterboarding--which isn't illegal--hasn’t been used in several years). Ending something that isn't there is what I call a truly empty gesture.

And it’s not as if Congress is going to get any braver under an Obama administration by actually passing legislation specifying what is and isn’t torture, (the way they never did under Bush—in spite of five years of accusing Bush of being out of control and above the law). So in the end, “ending the torture of detainees” will amount to nothing more than symbolic declamations meant to satisfy the UN, Human Rights Watch, and other Euro-types who never saved anyone from terrorism. The only ones who can give these gestures substance will be the terrorists plotting jihad against us: they'll digest it instantly as us losing our nerve.

Gestures will not stop jihadists.

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