A little over a year ago, I was in the Executive Office Building having a meeting with President Obama. The topic of the meeting was Gitmo and prosecuting 9/11 terrorists and the bombers of the USS Cole.
Before the meeting, President Obama "worked the room," shaking hands and briefly saying hello to all. When I shook his hand, I was immediately struck with the fact that he just seemed so nice. Sort of pure. It was, indeed, a deep departure from the feeling I got from the Bush Administration.
Once seated, Obama sat across from me. I could see his legs plainly. What I noticed was that his feet cutely curled around the bottom legs of his chair--like a small child would do in primary school. For obvious reasons, this body language was not what I would have expected from the Commander in Chief of the United States of America.
While questioning President Obama about Gitmo and more specifically prosecuting 9/11 co-conspirators, admittedly, I got a bit "inside baseball" with the facts but I figured as a Constitutional Law professor, Obama would know what I was talking about. Yet, as the meeting progressed and President Obama kept agreeing to everything, I had a small sinking feeling that the President might not really understand the ramifications of what he was so easily assenting to.
But honestly, at the time, I didn't really care. After all, he was the President and he had said it. It was his word. And, most importantly, he had to stick to his word. Right? I shot a nod over to one of his staffers (whom I knew) as if to say, "did ya get that? Did you hear what he just said? Because, I'm holding him to it." I actually smirked. It sort of felt like taking candy from a baby--only this was the President. There really wasn't anything the President didn't or wouldn't agree to.
As I walked away from the meeting, I kept shutting out my cynical, jaded attitude. I wanted to believe. I wanted to have hope that this new President would do the right thing. A new day was dawning. I even wrote a rosy blog about it.
A year later, as I sit and write this updated blog I am mindful that: my home is not near foreclosure; I don't find myself jobless; I have decent--although extremely costly--private health insurance; and I have no loved ones fighting overseas. So, in essence, maybe I shouldn't be complaining.
But I have a little girl named Caroline whose father was killed on 9/11. She will grow up to learn that her mom, an attorney and unwitting activist, fought tirelessly along with many others for a 9/11 Commission and to hold people accountable for the 3000 dead on 9/11. Caroline's also a fourth grader who just learned about the Constitution in her cultural history class.
So this morning when I was making breakfast, and Caroline asked me why I was so upset, I told her the truth. "I found out that President Obama is not going to keep his word. That he is going to ignore the Constitution. And that disappoints me."
My daughter's calm response? "But he can't. Every President has to follow the Constitution. That's their job. The Constitution has to always be followed by everybody. Or at least everybody in America."
When fighting the Bush Administration for accountability related to 9/11, the war in Iraq, and adherence to the Constitution when it came to torture and the Patriot Act, I found that President Bush had deeply held--albeit, inherently flawed-- convictions. Indeed, President Bush and I agreed on very little. But, at the very least, I knew clearly what he stood for and where I stood with him. I can't say the same for President Obama.