FRANK RICH has a searing piece in the Op-Ed section of today's Sunday Times, entitled "OBAMA CAN'T TURN THE PAGE ON BUSH."

Rich begins the editorial with this statement:

"No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration’s high ambitions."

I agree.

My sense is that President Obama will not obstruct any investigations into the Bush-Cheney era crimes, whether those investigations be conducted by Congress or a special prosecutor or other nations whose citizens were the victims of war crimes. But Obama seems to be trying to maintain a political neutrality in his "not looking back" stance that is at best, costing him some credibility, and at worst, emboldening the psychopaths who gutted our nation of wealth, blood and esteem in the world for the past eight years.

If Barack Obama is to become the memorable leader that he is surely capable of becoming, he, like all great leaders, must be flexible and courageous enough to spend political capital in the short run for the greater good in the long run. Right wingers, neo-cons, and even moderates who simply don't have the stomach for facing the ugly truth of what so many, including the complacent press, were complicit in over the last eight years, may prefer to sweep the horror show under the rug and "move on," but that would be, as Frank Rich says, "a fool's errand."

Step up, Mr. President. On this one, you have to be out in front of the revelations, and be not just a great politician, but a great leader.


Debra Oakland said...

My only response is to applaud you for this truthful post. You are saying what many are thinking. We have our politician, now we need to see his Leadership Power.

Hear the applause?

Debra Oakland

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you know where I stand on this already, and I admit that the mounting evidence that continually comes to light makes it harder and harder for me to not want a lynch mob to go find Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and string them up to a big ol' oak tree. But again, I think the problem is much more complex than we want to admit, and requires a lot more restraint and foresight than we usually have patience for.

For me this is an issue of politics not morality. Period. I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the arguably most divisive people in politics are interested in having this debate opened up. Cheney for one is so clearly on the wrong moral side of this whole thing and yet still insists on releasing evidence that would further bury his moral case. Why would he do something so stupid? And Pelosi has been so battered into partisan submission that she will do anything to have her ego coddled with a big old, "you were right". Both of them, although polar opposites politically, have one thing in common, their egos have a better chance of being "vindicated" when the country is divided and everyone "takes a side". For these two narcissists, they only "win" if there are two sides to fight each other.

Why else would Cheney so brazenly come out and ask for evidence to be released that without a question would make him look like the devil himself. It's stupid!!! But he's not stupid. Evil, maybe; stupid, no. Let me explain... I once saw a chart that listed which states voted for Bush and which states voted for Kerry and what those states' average IQs were. I'm not making this up, every state that was below a certain line (somewhere around 100) voted for Bush, and the ones above voted for Kerry. There was no overlap, a very clear demarcation. The unfortunate implication was that dumber people wanted a dumber president and a dumber party in charge. Politically, Cheney and the GOP understand this. Cheney's attempt to open this debate up is an attempt to once again widen the rift and inflame the dumb with retarded talking points and a big ol' healthy dose of victimization. Dumb people love partisanship, victimization etc... It's easy to understand. Us versus them. Vote for a guy you can have a beer with, etc...

(I suppose I should insert a disclosure here. I'm not suggesting that everyone that votes Republican is dumb. There are some very bright people who just see things differently. But I can't make up that data. It simply and unfortunately states that this demographic is strongly in the Republican camp.)

Cheney might lose the battle on this particular debate, but if he succeeds in helping the country once again become divided he wins the Republicans back the only chance in hell they have of winning back the White House. This is not unfamiliar territory for him either. The BIG lie about WMDs in Iraq obviously came back to bite him in the ass. Even AS IT WAS BEING SAID we all knew it was BS, and we all crucified him for it, but nevertheless he got what he wanted, a war with Iraq.

It's so morally incomprehensible, the whole idea of doing something so obviously wrong in order to get what you want, but it's the only tool these narcissists have, and it works!!! We have to take these tools out of their hands, and that means doing everything in our power to avoid partisanship. I contend very strongly that a vast inquiry will re-spark a rampant partisanship. If that happens, they win, and Obama can't get anything done... ever...

Now, I do agree with Frank Rich on a few things for sure. Actually the thesis statement is very true, Obama can't turn the page on Bush. The ghost of everything that Bush did, will continue to haunt him at every turn. It's an incredible challenge that Obama faces. But, I'm not so sure that an inquiry, even convictions, of all these guys will actually exercise those ghosts. That seems at best an idealized outcome. (Politically speaking)

In some ways Obama will be successful if he manages only to just neutralize the damage that Bush did. Everything else is almost gravy. But by far the biggest thing he needs to fix in order to move us forward in a positive direction is to fix the "us versus them" mentality that's pervaded our country for the last 8 years.

I truly believe that this is of utmost importance. I don't disagree that the past administration should be held accountable, and maybe they should be dragged before the justice systems of the world to be held accountable. But if in that process we in anyway risk Obama's efforts to "heal the divide" we're doing it at a great disservice to our nation's well being.

I'm just not sure that the American people have had the hindsight needed yet to understand that the Bush administrations' greatest failure was pitting us against each other. We may not figure that out until we're actually not pitted against each other anymore. At that moment in time, Obama and all of us will all share the political capital to pursue those guys to the fullest extent of the law.

Obama's got a big dilemma on his hands with this, the mounting pressure is getting palpable. And he's sort of in a spot where he's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. But I think he's got to keep his cool, lead by example and calmly triage this situation. To use the metaphor of a suicide patient, you have to stitch up the razor blade wounds first before you can deal with the underlying psychological problems.

I do agree with you though, he does need to be ahead of the revelations. Blocking the release of those pictures is not such a great move.

As to your last statement, I think he has to be a great politician IN ORDER TO BE a great leader in this current environment.


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