Commentary Magazine


He Who Shouts Loudest

As Jake Tapper and Bill Kristol reported, it is has dawned on the president that releasing detainee-abuse photos might endanger the lives of servicemen, so he will now object to their release. This is an overwhelmingly positive sign that the president is subject to persuasion and reason and that those defending the country by placing their own lives on the line carry more sway than ideological extremists in the Justice Department.

The Left is in meltdown mode. As ABC News reports, it’s just like the third Bush term:

“The reversal is another indication of a continuance of the Bush administration policies under the Obama administration,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh told ABC News. “President Obama’s promise of accountability is meaningless, this is inconsistent with his promise of transparency, it violates the government’s commitment to the court. People need to examine these abusive photographs, but also the government officials need to be held accountable.”

However, one wonders what inner compass guides the president. Surely the argument that releasing the photos would imperil our troops and incite the enemy was long known. Surely, he could have seen the firestorm that would have ensued when he made the decision originally to allow the ACLU to steamroll voter national security interests, right? One can’t help concluding this is all politics: How’s it going to fly? Can the administration “get away with it”? Will the public side with those nasty Cheneys?

It all feels like fingers testing the wind. And the message is unmistakable: he who screams the loudest and makes the most convincing case that the president’s own reputation will suffer has the winning argument. It’s not reassuring, but it certainly gives encouragement to those who want to disabuse the president of the notion that effective national security policy is synonymous with Democratic campaign rhetoric.