Friday, February 13, 2009

No Hope Or Change, Only Politics As Usual

Read this bit from the President's web site:

End the Practice of Writing Legislation Behind Closed Doors: As president, Barack Obama will restore the American people's trust in their government by making government more open and transparent. Obama will work to reform congressional rules to require all legislative sessions, including committee mark-ups and conference committees, to be conducted in public.

Contrast that with the harried passing of the stimulus package. Does anyone sense a disconnect here?

Slate does a nice job with this topic and asks the question, where's the hope and change. My answer is, there isn't going to be any and there never was. Running on "I'll do everything the opposite of the way Bush did it" was a no-brainer as far as platforms go. The problem is, President Obama is a politician. Politicians have two goals: get power and keep it.

Standing on the outside, it's easy to say "no rendition". Once you're president, it's awfully tempting to say "yes we can"(*). When you're the opposition, "no holding prisoners indefinitely without trials" is a great way to attack a sitting president. Once you are the president, "yes we can" is a lot simpler. Going from "no hiding behind the state secrets defense" to justify dismissing cases of abuse from Guantanamo to "yes we can" also comes easier.

Understand, I don't really blame the Obama adminstration for not wanting to give up all those arguments and powers now that they stand to benefit from them. That's what politicians do. The only people who should be surprised or upset are those who really believed Obama was anything other than what he is.

(*) There's been a lot of hair splitting over what type of rendition Obama is going to allow. Specifically, the difference between "rendition" and "extraordinary rendition". Setting aside that this distinction apparently didn't become important until the Obama administration said they would allow rendition of any type, listen to CIA director Leon Panetta's quote:

"I think renditions where we return individuals to another country where they prosecute them under their laws, I think that is an appropriate use of rendition" , Panetta said.

What he just described isn't rendition at all, but extradition, which is an entirely different animal. From this, I don't know what the administration is actually okaying here.

No comments:

Post a Comment