Friday, May 15, 2009

The Daily Strike-5/15/09-Trouble Moving On

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike this fine Friday. Congress was out of session, and President Obama's only event was a photo op with the Philadelphia Phillies. Therefore, today's entry will be short and sweet. Make sure you read the latest entry from the Big Picture (two entries below) on how progressives need to step it up.

ESCAPING THE PAST: President Obama would like nothing more than to move on from the Bush years, and to get moving on his agenda. Unfortunately, we're reminded daily of that old political science theory of path dependency. In other words, a President is constrained by the actions of his predecessor. Whether it's the economy, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush left Obama a giant mess. That part we knew on January 20th. What was less obvious is how difficult it would be to deal with Bush's most controversial policies, especially in anti-terror policy. Today, President Obama announced that the administration will renew the Bush-era military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. On the campaign trail, Obama railed against these commissions as a gross violation of civil liberties. Although the President is adding some legal safeguards, he is still causing a lot of anger to his supporters on the left. I'm frankly very disappointed in the President for this decision. I think it's the wrong one. I do though, have some sympathy for the President. He was left a garbage of a legal system at Guantanamo where evidence was gathered through torture and hearsay. It's gonna take awhile to dig ourselves out of that ditch. The same thing can be said about Afghanistan. The situation there was so bad that Obama felt we had to increase our military presence, even though the war is seemingly unwinnable. The economy was such a mess that Obama was forced to continue politically toxic bailouts to financial companies.

The reason that these inheritances have caused so many problems is twofold. For one, Obama has been too hesitant to boldly break from a lot of these policies, because he's afraid of scaring the Washington establishment. He knows that if he spends a lot of money to turn around the economy, for example, he'll be told by the editorial pages that he's threatening our long-term economic health. If he were to let terrorists have civilian trials and be housed in federal prisons, he would be accused of threatening our country's security. I get the feeling that he takes that "conventional wisdom" voice to heart more than any of us would want. The other reason is that Republicans have vested interests in not solving these issues. They want Obama to be grappling with inherited quagmires. It increases the likeliness that Obama's legislative agenda will be stalled. That's why the Republicans are making such a fuss about Guantanamo Bay and Nancy Pelosi's past knowledge of torture practices. The President could use a quiet weekend away, and let the news cycle move on to something besides detainee treatment. Such talk is such a nuisance while we're trying to deal with serious problems like health care and the economy.

That's all I have for today. Now it's time for our comment of the week. This one comes from "E," who discusses the Republicans' politically-motivated blocking of the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Thanks for the comment, E, and please leave some more! That goes for the rest of you!

Interior's Deputy Secretary nomination: First of all, Interior does many things besides dealing with oil drilling policies. For those who held up the process (simply due to making a political statement) are better not to jump out later and complain why things not getting done.

BTW, anyone knows whereabout Kerry and Mikulski?


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