Commentary Magazine


Hiding Behind the Bushies

Bill McGurn notices that the Obami are now seeking to hide behind the skirts of George W. Bush and his national-security team – the very people the Obami excoriated, investigated, and vilified as virtual war criminals. He writes:

Barack Obama defending his war policies by suggesting they merely continue his predecessor’s practices. The defense is illuminating, not least for its implicit recognition that George W. Bush has more credibility on fighting terrorists than does the sitting president.

Mr. Obama’s explanation came in an interview with Katie Couric just before the Super Bowl. Ms. Couric asked about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. After listing some of the difficulties, the president offered a startling defense for civilian trials: “I think that the most important thing for the public to understand,” he told Ms. Couric, “is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11.”

This is a far cry, as McGurn points out, from all the insults hurled by Obama at the Bush team. (“You know—all those Niebuhrian speeches about how America had gone ‘off course,’ ‘shown arrogance and been dismissive,’ and ‘made decisions based on fear rather than foresight,’ thus handing al Qaeda a valuable recruiting tool.”)

And then there are the facts: you see, it’s not true. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey says that the decision to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber and classify him as a criminal defendant wasn’t predetermined by any Bush-era policy or guideline: “And there is nothing—zero, zilch, nada—in those guidelines that makes that choice. It is a decision that ought to be made at the highest level, and the heads of our security agencies have testified that it was made without consulting them.”

It is political cowardice plain and simple to pass off on a prior president what is indisputably a policy judgment of this administration. Indeed, the entire episode personifies the core failings of this president — a misguided view of our enemies and the requirements of fighting a war against Islamic fascists, a willingness to employ leftist slogans in place of reasoned policy, a refusal to take responsibility for grievous errors, and an inability to get stories straight when everything goes haywire. The stakes are very high, yet the Obami persist in treating the public as gullible and a near-calamitous national-security failure as a mere PR problem. In that regard, they certainly are very un-Bush.