This weekend, Americans were treated to something new: 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.” Mr. Obama went on to add that “190 folks”—folks presumably just like the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks—had been tried and convicted in civilian court during Mr. Bush’s tenure.
Leave aside, for just a moment, the substance. Far more arresting is that Mr. Obama now defends himself by invoking a man he has spent the past year blaming for al Qaeda’s growth. 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.
Want to know why the enthusiasm of the progressive left has so significantly curtailed? This is just one reason. The very basis of Obama's campaign when he first drawing a buzz was the massive distinctions he made between himself and W.
And now? Well....