Governance is a funny thing. All campaign promises fade into the history books – to be replaced by new, slightly more realistic promises after the oath of office is administered. Rare exceptions occur – and they become the “obstacles” on which many a politican has stumbled, bumbled, and flipped over.
President Barack Obama is no different. He promised to close the detention facility for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He made many a speech – spoke with great conviction and made his case. Just hours after his inauguration as America’s 44th president, he ordered Gitmo closed within a year.
And then, the fun began. Many of us Bushies – from the campaign, from the administration, from the PR & Donor classes – shook our heads. Some mocked hope-n-change openly. Others bid Obama “good luck with that.” Still others explained that no matter the approach – Gitmo was far more complicated than anyone knew.
Now…six months later… Obama is finding out that his presdecessor George W. Bush has been straight with the American people. There are no good answers. The difference? W knew that bad things happen during war. Obama believed he could obviate nature – from legal opinion to PR counsel – he thought he knew better.
From The Washington Post, White House Considers Executive Order on Indefinite Detention of Terror Suspects:
Obama administration officials, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, are crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.
Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that an order, which would bypass Congress, could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.
Not to mention serious problems with the Democratic-led Congress:
After months of internal debate over how to close the military facility in Cuba, White House officials are increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the prison by the president’s January deadline.
Just to be clear:
“These issues haven’t morphed simply because the administration changed,” said Juan Zarate, who served as Bush’s deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“The challenge for the new administration is how to solve these legal questions of preventive detention in a way that is consistent with the Constitution, legitimate in the eyes of the world and doesn’t create security loopholes that cause Congress to worry,” Zarate said.
Being President isn’t about anything other than the oath. Not hope. Not change. Not empathy. Nor Compassionate Conservatism. It is about the oath.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”