In its editorial on the Obama administration coming out in favor of reauthorization of key Patriot Act provisions, the Wall Street Journal writes:
When George W. Bush was President, the Patriot Act became part of the liberal conspiracy theory that Republicans were engaged in a lawless crusade to turn the U.S. into a police state. But the Patriot Act can now join Guantanamo, military commissions, unlimited detention, drone strikes, the state secrets doctrine and Middle Eastern democracy as Bush policies that Mr. Obama has embraced one way or another.
That’s a very handy litany the Journal has provided, and an encouraging one, too.
It’s worth recalling the ferocious liberal attacks against President Bush for his counterterrorism policies. The fact that a liberal Democratic president has seen fit to embrace many of them—including policies that he criticized during the campaign—is quite important. Such things are often the best way a nation can reach consensus on certain issues (think of Nixon’s going to China and Bill Clinton’s embracing welfare reform). What is becoming more and more clear with the passage of time is that the counterterrorism architecture put in place by Obama’s predecessor was not only right; it is now in the process of being vindicated even by those who once lacerated Mr. Bush.
Just as Harry Truman deserves credit for helping to shape the post-World War II world, George W. Bush deserves credit for helping to shape the post-9/11 world. Barack Obama will never say so, but his actions demonstrate it. And in this instance, actions are far more significant than words.