May 16, 2009

Obama is like Bush — with purported process appurtenances.

Yesterday, we were talking about the way Obama was keeping Bush's military commissions and lamely trying to make it look different by purporting to add more process. I gave the post my "Obama is like Bush" tag, and I had to laugh when John (my son) commented:
You should have a tag: "Obama is like Bush but with more procedural protections."
Today, the WSJ is laughing at the lameness of the new protections:
Part of the tribunal face-lift is that "the accused will have greater latitude in selecting their counsel." Say what? Enemy combatants already have better access to attorneys -- white shoe and pro bono, no less -- than nearly every criminal defendant in America. Perhaps this means Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 90 Yemenis and the rest will now be able to choose lawyers from both Shearman & Sterling and Covington & Burling, instead of one or the other.

Another red herring is supposedly tightening the admissibility of hearsay evidence. Tribunal judges already have discretion to limit such evidence, and the current rules are nearly indistinguishable from those of the International Criminal Court. The sensible exceptions involve evidence obtained under combat conditions or from foreign intelligence services, which are left untouched by Mr. Obama's nips and tucks.

In any event, Mr. Obama deserves credit for accepting that the civilian courts are largely unsuited for the realities of the war on terror. He has now decided to preserve a tribunal process that will be identical in every material way to the one favored by Dick Cheney -- and which, contrary to the narrative that Democrats promulgated for years, will be the fairest and most open war-crimes trials in U.S. history.
I'm laughing at Obama, but I'm also thanking him for doing the right thing and reasonably tolerant of the way he's tried to save face by pretending he's not doing exactly the same thing Bush did.

Let me quote another commenter on yesterday's post. D-Day said:
Ann,

I was convinced that you were wholly deluded when you decided that Obama was going to be more of a pragmatist than most people (especially his own backers) expected. I very grudgingly concede that you may have been somewhat right. I underestimated his willingness to lie.
(Background: Here's my 11/8/08 post "How McCain lost me.")

57 comments:

MadisonMan said...

McCain was lying through his teeth as well while campaigning.

I don't understand why anyone thinks a campaigning politician is truthful.

Ben (The Tiger) said...

So I guess the one man who comes off well from this exercise is President Bush, then -- right?

AllenS said...

Sounds like some people are losing that hope and change feeling.

Pogo said...

It appears that Obama's character is devoid of sharp lines.

rhhardin said...

How's the pragmatist doing on contracts?

vet66 said...

'HopeandChange' is starting to sound like what a baby thinks when he or she fills her diaper.

Issob Morocco said...

Squiress Althouse, I would not be thanking the One for doing what was 'right' as his change is being done for political expediency, not a change in views.

In short, he is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. I think of the "Music Man" and Robert Preston's character when I see the One lately. His gig is wearing thin and time to move onto the next town.

And when unemployment hits 10.5% this summer, I expect you will see the One start doing some more 'right' things to the economy, like tax cuts, because what he has done so far is massively wrong both short and long term.

Cheers!!

jayne_cobb said...

So am I supposed to be happy that he's conceded that Bush was right; or should I be dismayed that he spent years undermining our national security for purely political reasons?



And I'll say it again because it bears repeating: I have never seen so many people hope that the politician they voted for is lying to them as I have since Obama started running for president.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Hope = Cynicism

Change = More of the same

knox said...

He has now decided to preserve a tribunal process that will be identical in every material way to the one favored by Dick Cheney
All this must be a painful growing-up process for Obama, adding to all the other considerable stresses of being president. He is having to face an awful lot of harsh realities, apparently, for the first time in his life.

Consequently, this administration is twisting in the wind on foreign policy. They either continue what Bush was already doing (which they once harshly criticized!) or they have multiple reversals and last minute changes-of-heart. And that poor dunce Robert Gibbs, who's supposed to tell us all what's going on, is obviously as confused as the rest of us.

traditionalguy said...

There they go again, complementing Obama for his wisdom being as good as the Bush/Cheney team's wisdom. I suspect that Pres. Obama does not want to fight the CIA and the Pentagon while very real wars are flaring up to test the new President's strength. This guy needs some friends in the CIA and the Pentagon if he wishes to use the chain of command when the next series of moves begins in the War with Muslim Guerrilla Forces. I wonder if Obama has learned how many Nuclear Superbombs the Iranins have finished.

rhhardin said...

Stanley Cavell

For an Emersonian, the [pragmatist] Deweyan is likely to seem like an enlightened child, toying with the means of destruction, stinting the means of instruction, of provoking the self to work; for the Deweyan, the Emersonian is apt to look, at best, like a Deweyan...For Dewey the texture of the philosophical text barely exists, except as superstition and resistance to social change.

Bissage said...

None of these similarities come as a great surprise to those of us cognizant of the fact that President Obama -- same as President Bush before him -- is a 32nd degree Prince Hall Freemason loyal to the Craft.

Salamandyr said...

We always said that the only way to get the Democrats on board with the War on Terror was to let them be in charge of it.

It just seems a damn shame to grant honors to those who by their own current actions, prove they were merely obstructing the former Administration for their own selfish ends.

ElcubanitoKC said...

He lied.

I'm shocked

Maybe...

...but not really.

traditionalguy said...

Bissage ...What is a 32nd degree Prince Hall Freemason?

NightBastard said...

I think Obama took the left's measure and determined it was always posturing and they'll fall in line. And he's right.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Obama is like Bush but with more procedural protections."

Obama is like Bush but with more bureaucracy?

This is a feature?

Anyhow, Obama is not like Bush. He's primarily concerned with transforming the domestic economy towards a more collectivist direction. Foreign affairs are not his passion and are also the biggest risk he has towards being able to accomplish his economic aims.

Maguro said...

Obama makes all bad things good again. Even our guided missiles now come with new, process-oriented shrapnel to tear your flesh apart in accordance with international law.

It's all very humane and globally-approved.

Eric said...

I think Obama took the left's measure and determined it was always posturing and they'll fall in line. And he's right.

Isn't that a bit insulting for the lefties out there? "Hey, thanks for voting for me, no why don't you go out and play while the adults talk?"

Dale said...

McCain was lying .

Why you keep using that word? I do not think it means what you think it means.

Dale said...

It appears that Obama's character is devoid of sharp lines.LOL!


Actually, I want to take every opportunity to commend the man I did not vote for when he does the right thing.

Boo-Rah Obama!

m00se said...

Nah, nah, nah!!

My lame ass president was better than your lame ass president!!

SMGalbraith said...

So, Obama's throwing the terrorists under the bus? It's getting crowded under there but we can make room.

It's interesting that the Administration is seeded with critics of military tribunals; like the CIA, will they fight back?

The current deputy Solicitor General has said:

[Military commission] trials are not "equal justice": For the first time since equality was written into our Constitution, America has created one criminal trial for "us" and one for "them."For the "first time"? I guess he missed those Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after WWII. Not to mention Operation Pastorius/ex parte Quirin. Et cetera, et cetera..

AllenS said...

Bush Hitler. Obama Osama.

Bissage said...

@traditionalguy, that was a joke poking a little gentle fun at conspiracy theorists.

In other words, I have no idea.

PatCA said...

I think Obama is upholding the terror regs because he doesn't really care about changing the way we fight wars--that was all political posturing.

What he cares about is centralizing power and purse in a central government, and he is proceeding, and succeeding, with lightning speed at that goal.

Yos said...

Ann

Reading your messages, you should start a new tag "How Althouse lost me"... I'm getting tired of reading your blog... I'm moving on... bye

SMGalbraith said...

I'm getting tired of reading your blog... I'm moving on... bye
Because Ann's purpose for the blog was to satisfy you?

As Eugene Volokh responded to similar criticism, there are lots of blog out there; perhaps you'll find one that will say everything you agree with and talk about every issue you like. Good luck finding it.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse, before you take too many victory laps for predicting Obama's moderation, you might want to wait and see just how many industries become nationalized. Despite McCain's many shortcomings, I doubt that he would have been firing GM's CEO or telling Chrysler what their advertising budget will be.

Let's wait and see just how hard it becomes to purchase ammunition, and what their next step is in their campaign to disarm the citizenry. Again, another big difference between McCain (or Bush) and Obama.

And let's see just how much the national debt becomes, and what steps he next suggests to counter all this "unsustainable spending" (Obama's words, from a couple of days ago, without a trace of irony in his voice).

Moderate? Unbelievable.

Obama is like Bush when it's politically necessary, or when it's a topic that Obama doesn't care about as much. It appears as though nationalization of industries and annihilation of our economy, Obama's top priorities, are things that Althouse doesn't really care about too much.

John Lynch said...

Not surprising, because people didn't seem to get that Bush set up a military commission system only grudgingly because he had to.

Bush didn't even want to do that. He originally just locked people up with no system at all. He didn't come up the military commission idea because he was evil and liked star chamber courts, but because some kind of system, short of the civilian court system, was needed.

Bush only did this under pressure. He was famous for failing to build an institutional structure for the war or terror, and relied on his own authority rather than procedure many, many times.

So good for Obama, but it's really just the only rational thing he could do. Both Obama and Bush are facing the same problem, and it's convergent evolution more than anything else that they arrived at the same solution.

SMGalbraith said...

Not surprising, because people didn't seem to get that Bush set up a military commission system only grudgingly because he had to.Sorry, that's simply not true.

The Administration orginally set up military trials but the Surpreme Court ruled (Hamdan) that the procedures established were not properly made/insufficient.

Congress then authorized such commissions only to have the rug pulled out later when the Court ruled that they were insufficient.

mariner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Stodder said...

All this must be a painful growing-up process for Obama, adding to all the other considerable stresses of being president.

Painful for his followers, but I doubt it's painful for him. I don't think he had his heart set on avoiding military commissions. It was just an issue that polled well in Iowa and the rest is history. Next time, Iowa will only have one Democratic candidate, him, so he's home free on that score.

Next up: A "waiver" for Gitmo.

Did anyone see David Brooks column yesterday? Almost surreally funny. After pushing through all this spending and accusing anyone who stood in the way of kaotowing to Rush Limbaugh, Obama is now roaming the WH, asking staff to come up with ways to balance the budget! Maybe he thinks he's triangulating, but it's a pretty farcical way to go about it.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

I've never seen it around here, but I've noticed that at a lot of blogs that have more than a couple of liberal commenters, it's popular to repeat, ad nauseum, "reality has a liberal bias" (as if saying it enough will make it true).

But here, once again, we have have strong evidence that facing reality (actually being in charge, running a business, growing older, etc) more often than not tempers the liberalism and moves one in favor of the conservativism, while those that are insulated from reality (ivory tower dwellers- no offense, Professor!, students and other young people, judges) are the ones that clinge to or more towards a more liberal view.

Welcome to reality, Mr. President. I hope you stay a while.

John Lynch said...

Us vs. Them. What does the Dep. Solicitor General think war is, if not Us vs. Them?

Cedarford said...

MadisonMan said...
McCain was lying through his teeth as well while campaigning.
I don't understand why anyone thinks a campaigning politician is truthful.
Certain ideologues and media place far too high a value on the imperative nature of a politician or leader never altering their views despite their learning curve or new facts & realities. Lest they be seen weak and as a (dreaded) "flip-flopper".

Our better, dynamic leaders, like FDR, Truman, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton after 1994 did reverse on some matters. Even telling the public that they were WRONG in their previous position and saying why - or they were right before but doing a 180 because of _______.

The poorer ones, like Wilson, Carter and Bush II - stuck with policies they knew were failed policies, were unable to explain or justify a change to policy, were afraid to lest they seem less than perfect or a weak "flip-flopper". Or by messianic personality flaw stubbornly remained convinced they were right on certain policies the public disapproved of and felt no need to explain..

That Obama tenatively appears to be in the 1st camp is a good thing. And entirely different than John McCain - who would shift, but only in an erratic and incoherent way, based on how much credit he thought the media would give him, or on his "inerrant, gut, fighter pilot's instincts".

If Obama continues this trend, I'm hopeful. He has placed far too much emphasis on using borrowed money to fund services rather than build things or make things to restart the economy..He is headed for disaster with his sole focus on "solar, wind green solutions" to get us off foreign oil, and paying too much attention to the Gore nuts. And He is presently trapped by his rhetoric on "Afghanistan being the real war we must win" simply because bin Laden - one minor guy - once lived there...as all signs point to it never changing from an illiterate, barbarous nacrokleptocracy racked by Fundie religious crazies - into the "American mold".

===================
Traditionalguy - I wonder if Obama has learned how many Nuclear Superbombs the Iranins have finished..

Despite the fear campaign that the zionists and neocons have underway to try and deceive the American public, Obama does know the answer to that one. Zero. No nuke bombs, let alone superbombs. (thermonuclear devices).
And he knows from polling that there is absolutely no public support outside a few rural Christian Zionist locales he lost anyways for starting a 3rd major war and having the US culpable for starting a Global Depression as the Iranians shut down all Gulf oil for 4-6 months.
And he has National Security staff that will tell him that any serious military strategist believes Iran must have a strong military because it is surrounded by traditionally hostile-to-Iran nations, many nuclear armed.

The key is to get a ME Peace (King Abdullah Plan), Israel to back off most of it's land grabs and compensate refugees. Arabs and Iran to recognize Israel and reject all extra-state terror groups in return for this...and permanent borders. Then you can have other powers defuse the WMD race Israel initiated and act as guarantors of those borders.

hdhouse said...

oh more crap. 13 is the number i believe who will still go thru the tribunal with significant modifications from the kangaroo court set up by President CheneyBush.

Gitmo will close. The rest will likely sort out in federal court or be released.

This whole Obama is like Bush is just a way to legitimize CheneyBush when there isn't anything on God's green earth that will remove the stain of their 8 years.

avwh said...

"If Obama continues this trend, I'm hopeful. He has placed far too much emphasis on using borrowed money to fund services rather than build things or make things to restart the economy..He is headed for disaster with his sole focus on "solar, wind green solutions" to get us off foreign oil, and paying too much attention to the Gore nuts. And He is presently trapped by his rhetoric on "Afghanistan being the real war we must win" simply because bin Laden - one minor guy - once lived there..."I'd add: he's dismantling the rules of capitalism ("next to no equity for secured bondholders, but the largest stake for my friends, the unions"), pre-empting bankrupcty and secured lenders, and he's been shown to be a complete amateur in his one-on-one foreign relations forays (the Queen, the Browns, bow & scrape to the Saudi king, etc.).

That's a pretty long list of "buts", Cedarford - remind me again WHY you're hopeful of this "Obama trend"?

My guess: he'll stay a radical on all the things that matter to him (health care, unions, environment, energy, capitalism), but be sorta pragmatic on things like foreign policy & the war on terror - i.e., keep almost all the Bush policies - on the stuff that he doesn't want "interfering" with his radical domestic agenda.

S said...

If the guy really is pragmatic could someone please teach him basic econ? Soon?

Then again, I've already set my savings up to profit from inflation.. I bet the Obamabots will be 'hardest hit' since they won't admit what is coming.

S said...

John Lynch said...

"Not surprising, because people didn't seem to get that Bush set up a military commission system only grudgingly because he had to."

He said he was waiting on Congress and the Courts to settle on what rules they were going to insist on before he could move forward.

jr565 said...

Jayne has it right with this:
So am I supposed to be happy that he's conceded that Bush was right; or should I be dismayed that he spent years undermining our national security for purely political reasons?Exactly. Great, he came around to Bush's way of thinking. If only we didn't have to go through 4 years of demagoguery from the dems to get Bush's policies with some refinements around the edges.
His supporters hit the airwaves and are suggesting its a sign of his pragmatism, while they still cling to the notion of Bush being a rigid ideologue. But, what it in fact means is that Bush had the right policies all along,and after stubbornly trying to villainize Bush for them, Obama will become the rigid ideolog and cling to said policies because to do otherwise would be foolish.

Likewise on Iran, Obama and co. will try the whole talking without preconditions, get nowhere and ultimately come to the conclusion that Iran is a threat that has to be contained and that negotiating with them was a pointless enterprise and the only way to reign them in is with tough diplomacy with our allies predicated on Iran meeting preconditions.
And then people will wonder why it took Obama a year to come to the same conclusion that the rest of the world had years ago. I'm sure Hillary Clinton, while putting on the bravest face she can will inwardly be cursing Obama for making her go through the pretense of talking without preconditions to get the same results, and wondering how in the hell this moron beat her in the election.

Obama, like Bush, but slower on the uptake.

Edmund Burke said...

Obama can don his "Bush-lite" mask on 99% to the issues because he only cares about one issue really: transferring as much wealth and as many assets and cash hoards to himeself and his supporters, including ACORN, as he can in order to render him unbeatable at the polls he controls in perpetuity (or at least for 8 years). I am really worried about this country. For the first time in my life I heard talk about a sitting President (other than FDR) refusing to leave after 8 years, and that talk was about Bush 43. Now I am thinking the same thing about Sic Semper Obamanus, and I know I am not the only one. Someone from the Left give me reassurance.

D-Day said...

If the guy really is pragmatic could someone please teach him basic econ? Soon?President Pragmatist isn't going to be restrained by any particular economic principle or theory. He's just trying to make the national economy wealthy the same way he became wealthy.

Debt, and magic beans.

D-Day said...

Also, thank you, Ann, for the tag! That made my day. Which is saying quite a bit, since it's also my birthday, and one ending in zero at that.

Fen said...

Janye: "So am I supposed to be happy that he's conceded that Bush was right; or should I be dismayed that he spent years undermining our national security for purely political reasons?"

Bumped.

Fred4Pres said...

If only Fred really ran. Fred would have been good.

TRundgren said...

President Bush was as serious as cancer in doing what he could do after looking out upon the rubble of the WTC.

Slowly but surely we will realize whe and Cheney were serious men doing the rough job that rough men do.

This is only the beginning of Bush reconsidered.

Eric said...

McCain was lying through his teeth as well while campaigning.

Oh? How so? I'm not necessarily disagreeing, I jut don't remember anything specific where I rolled my eyes and thought "this guy is lying". Not that I'm a fan of McCain, mind you. I think he comes up a little short in the "principles" department.

lacegrl130 said...

TRundgren said: "President Bush was as serious as cancer in doing what he could do after looking out upon the rubble of the WTC.

Slowly but surely we will realize he and Cheney were serious men doing the rough job that rough men do.

This is only the beginning of Bush reconsidered."


I agree - my sister shrieked at me before the election that Bush had shredded the constitution. It was as if he had committed multiple serial murders.

Why is Obama less reprehensible? If Bush was so wrong, isn't what Obama is doing more serious because he admitted what Bush supposedly did was "wrong" ? He has the chance to undo it and is now ignoring what was inferred to be the crime of the century. Who is worse? And as far as constitution shredding goes - what about contract law and the way it is being re-worked in spite of the constitution? Is that shriek worthy?

Jack said...

Expect a flurry of ultra lefty bones thrown out by Obama this week to placate the nutroots.

www.jourtegrity.blogspot.com

BC said...

Sorry, but Obama is not in the slightest way like Bush. With Bush, you had a teenage thief racing around in a stolen Corvette with his buddies; with Obama, you have a grown-up driving his kids to school in a station wagon -- the only thing they have in common is they are driving something.

Obviously Obama was shown and told stuff as President that he was not privy to as a junior senator, and is trying to balance pragmatism with idealism. With the tribunal stuff, few on either the left or the right are remembering how the devil is usually in the details.

John Clifford said...

I wish that the Bush-haters could put their rage aside and realize that Bush, like Obama, is a human being with all of the imperfection that humans have. Bush didn't "shred the Constitution." Arguably, Obama has ignored the Constitition and the rule of law far more flagrantly than his predecessor.

I think that both men tried/are trying to do what they believe is right. Bush had the advantage of having better advisors (more experienced, more successful). Obama is surrounded by the popular kids... the ones who never really had to work and who never had to put it all on the line, so they don't really know how the world works. Obama has the advantage of being a much better speech reader... although later in his term Bush became a decent extemporaneous public speaker. Obama also has the advantage of a fawning press. Imagine the coverage of Bush saying "Cinqo de quatro" or referring to the national language of Austria as "Austrian." Or the outrage if Bush's secretaries threatened private industries, or launched an operation against Michael Moore from the White House.

Why did Obama flip-flop on Gitmo? I think Obama is realizing how many of his positions were based on ignorance, and while he's quick to give up the ones that don't mean much to him philosophically, e.g, military commissions/Gitmo, he's having a hard time reconciling reality with beliefs with respect to his economic policies. The man isn't stupid, just stubborn (like most of us), but even he can see the economic tsunami that is building due to his astronomical amount of deficit spending and the resulting fallout (having to print money to buy t-bonds) and his ham-handed attempts to 'fix' the economy (Chrysler). Figure the odds on Chrysler going to the financial community that got stiffed this time after emerging from bankruptcy and getting more working capital.

The problem is, his entire philosophy is built on falsehoods. His presidency is a litmus test on the philosophy of 'liberalism' and it's going to fail. Jimmy Carter went down the same road (just not as far or as fast), and Obama will join him as a one-term president.

Tantor said...

He's lost that hopey feeling,
Yeah, that changey feeling,
He's lost that hope and change,
Now it's gone, gone, gone
Gone away.

Fen said...

Obviously Obama was shown and told stuff as President that he was not privy to as a junior senator, and is trying to balance pragmatism with idealism.


Oh please. Most of us here already knew what Obama is just now learning. And we're not privy to daily NSC briefings.

Fen said...

Obama is surrounded by the popular kids... the ones who never really had to work and who never had to put it all on the line, so they don't really know how the world works.

Yah. There's a news clip re Obama staff leaving their first briefing ashen and shaken. I think we'll see alot of resignations after the first year - Axelrod & Co want power, not the burden of responsibility that comes with it.

Job said...

Those were not the terrorists I knew. -- Barack Hussein Obama

The funniest thing in this whole thread is reading Cederford bend over backwards trying to convince us (himself?) that BHO did not simply lie to us all about his views on torture, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo, tribunals, etc. Our Pres always loudly voices the "PC" view and then--as quietly as possible--takes more reasonable actions that are about 98% the same as the previous President.