I can only assume President Obama wakes up every morning and thinks, "God, I just hate George W. Bush." It would be an understandable emotional reaction under the circumstances.
There's been considerable debate of late over Bush/Cheney-era torture policies, and what, if anything, to do about them. Obama clearly wants no part of this, despite the importance of accountability, and despite the demands of the law.
I've been trying, however, to think about this from Obama's perspective. Bush left him with a generational economic crisis, an abysmal job market, a budget mess, a war in Iraq, a deteriorating war in Afghanistan, an nuclear-armed and unstable Pakistan, a nuclear-armed and nutty North Korea, a warming planet, a collapsing U.S. auto industry, an ineffective health care system, a massive debt, an absurd national energy framework, and a nation that has lost much of its global prestige.
Ready to dive in and start getting the nation back on track, the president is told, "Wait, before you tackle this to-do list, we have to deal with the consequences of the previous administration's alleged war crimes, too."
It's no wonder No Drama Obama prefers to turn the proverbial page.
[Prosecuting Bush administration officials] would simply swallow the Obama presidency whole. It is the kind of energy draining, oxygen consuming drama that is the nightmare of every president. [...]
President Obama is making a realistic, cold, clear-eyed cost-benefit analysis. This is the choice: Does he fix the economy, fix healthcare, get a handle on the two wars he's dealing with, or does he prosecute Bush era war crimes? He has chosen his agenda and is asking us to choose that to.
Obama has probably come to the conclusion that he simply has too much else to do. Investigating alleged Bush/Cheney crimes, prosecuting alleged Bush/Cheney crimes, releasing photographs documenting alleged Bush/Cheney crimes ... the president apparently doesn't see the utility in any of this.
He's almost certainly looking at this in cold, calculating terms, and has decided none of this advances the nation's interests. That's not an unreasonable position to take.
Except, there's a nagging problem -- that darn rule of law.
While I can easily understand the president's calculation, I still think some of Obama's recent calls are mistaken, not because they're inexplicable, but because the expedience just isn't a good enough excuse.
It's a real shame Bush and Cheney screwed up so spectacularly, and ignored the law so systematically, that it's interfering with Obama's desire to govern. It really is. If I were in the president's shoes, I might feel the same temptations. But he signed up for this gig, vowing to rebuild the nation. As much as he'd like to get beyond the recent past, nothing of any value is ever built on a corrupted foundation.
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