Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bumblin', Stumblin' - The Bush Legacy

Crossposted at Cobalt VA

Glenn Greenwald posted a blog today expressing grave concerns about President Obama's "embrace of the Bush terrorist policies." I share his concern, but I'm more concerned with President Obama's ability to clean up the mess and return the "secrets" game to the shadows where it rightfully belongs. Read Glenn's post, then my response. Let the conversation ensue....

My Response:

Wasn't the elemental mistake of the Bush Administration simply that they proceeded to play the "secrets" game that had gone on for decades concerning our enemies, with simplistic, bumbling, ideological, ineptitude? Black sites, secret interrogations, illegal invasions of foreign countries, back room maneuvers supported by the Office of Legal Affairs have been a part of our government since World War II. Even before WWII, some conspiracy theorists point to the suspicious activity of Roosevelt in dealing with China and Japan as the match that lit our involvement in "The War to End all Wars."

Isn't Obama simply trying to return the "secrets" game to the shadows where it rightfully belongs? Isn't part of his appeal his ability to calm the waters of partisan passion and simply remind us the art of governance includes the nasty underbelly of covert operations and legally questionable practices of internal and international intrigue?

That being said, it is also true that any time a President overstepped his parameters and got caught with his hands in the cookie jar of these shady legal practices, the price paid has been severe. Nixon was disgraced, Reagan was at least diminished in stature, Kennedy, Johnson, and Ford were all caught up in various levels of disclosure that cost them dearly in the political arena.

Eisenhower avoided exposure, as did Roosevelt and Truman to a large degree and their historical reputations have largely been preserved. They played well.

I return to the initial tragedy. The Bush Administration didn't know or didn't care about the history, technique, and rules of the "secrets" game. The rumbling, bumbling, and stumbling of the Cheney/Bush cabal has cost us our political discourse and the ability of our politicians to serve the people both economically and with national security.

My estimation of President Obama has been largely positive. I'm outraged that he has embraced the Bush policies of dealing with terrorism. With resignation I also understand that he's dealing with the whole issue by defining for us what Bush did that was actually OK and separating that from the administrative hackery that got us here. In short, he's making everyone uncomfortable. The Left is mad, the Right is mad, I'm mad, you're mad..... you get the picture. That, in a nutshell means he's being brilliant. He's putting the country, warts and all, first.