Today the White House deemed it prudent to prepare the country for an apology in the upcoming State of the Union address. It might not be the apology you're looking for, though. The President is set to acknowledge his responsibility for missteps (read: the missteps of others who continue to work for him) in pursuit of the administration's agenda. Since presidents sometimes omit details from statements of contrition (maybe for brevity's sake?) here's a little list of things that he may (or may not) actually be sorry about.
As candidate, Barack Obama promised that on "my first day in office, I will give the military a new mission: ending this war." Pretty clear, no? I'm wondering whether the men in uniform got that message. But even more I'm wondering why we still appear no closer to withdrawal than during the previous administration.
You'd think that a Nobel peace laureate would be more than a little reluctant to escalate a costly war where he personally bore responsibility, where there was no vital national interest, and where the odds are long indeed. Terrorists can operate freely from Pakistan (not to mention many other countries) so the argument that we are keeping Americans safe is pretty thin. And the argument that we are helping the Afghani people -- who in material terms are among the worlds poorest -- by conducting military operations there, is tough for me to buy.
3. The "Bailout"
Trillions spent and unlimited amounts promised to major banks who then (1) lavished bonuses upon themselves with our money and (2) tightened our credit. It's the biggest wealth transfer in United States history, but in the wrong direction and at a time when the public is feeling pretty stressed about jobs and income. This was economic and political incompetence of the first degree.
How hard is it to close a prison, guys? Even if you have absolutely no respect for the fundamental principles embodied in the law of civilized nations that forbid detention without trial, the symbolic benefit of closing Guantanamo and transferring the inmates somewhere else, anywhere else, would be well worth it. And are you really more afraid of those scary "detainees" than the sociopaths, child molesters, terrorists and serial killers we grow at home?
5. Financial Reform
Given the biggest financial collapse since the 1920s and widespread consensus that regulatory reform is essential, so far we don't have much in the way of change. The moment is slipping away. It's convenient to blame congress, but the ugly truth is that there are a host of actions that an aggressive and committed executive branch could already have taken to promote the safety and stability of our financial system.