Obama Is a Skilled Speaker … But He Doesn’t Fulfill His Promises
After many liberals – and constitutional experts – started saying that Obama is even worse than Nixon, Obama made a speech on foreign policy filled with soothing promises to try to reassure the country.
But as Glenn Greenwald notes:
McClatchy’s Leslie Clark and Jonathan Landay astutely noted that Obama’s formulation for when drone strikes should be used was broader than past government statements, which meant he “appeared to be laying groundwork for an expansion of the controversial targeted killings“.
The Brookings Institution’s Benjamin Wittes similarly observed that Obama’s speech seemed written to align the president “as publicly as possible with the critics of the positions his administration is taking without undermining his administration’s operational flexibility in actual fact.” In other words, said Wittes (summarizing the vintage Obama rhetorical device), “the president sought to rebuke his own administration for taking the positions it has — but also to make sure that it could continue to do so.” Slate’s national security writer Fred Kaplan observed this morning that “the speech heralded nothing new when it comes to drone strikes.” In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Jeremy Scahill argued this about the Obama speech:[I]t really is sort of just a rebranding of the Bush era policies with some legalese that is very articulately delivered from our constitutional law professor, Nobel Peace Prize-winning president. But effectively, Obama has declared the world a battlefield and reserves the right to drone bomb countries in pursuit of people against whom we have no direct evidence or who we’re not seeking any indictment against.”
The national security reporter Michael Hastings said much the same thing on MSNBC over the weekend (“That speech to me was essentially agreeing with President Bush and Vice President Cheney that we’re in this neo-conservative paradigm, that we’re at war with a jihadist threat that actually is not a nuisance but the most important threat we’re facing today”), while Carnegie Mellon Professor Kiron Skinner on the same show said that “there was a lot of George W. Bush in that speech“, as Obama spoke as though we are in a “long-term ideological struggle in a way that he’s not talked about radical Islam before . .. where he’s going will take him away from his liberal base.”
Until die-hard Obama supporters (I voted for Obama in 2008, but quickly became disillusioned as soon as he appointed cabinet members who were firmly in the status quo) realize that Obama is just a repackaged Bush, war – no matter what it’s called – will go on and on.