For much of President Obama’s first year in office, his national security team worked to devise a secure plan to send dozens of Yemeni detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the largest single group at the prison camp — home to Yemen, perhaps to a rehabilitation program....It seems to me that the President is the victim of his own ideas about how to do things differently. If he had graciously accepted the inheritance left by George Bush, he wouldn't have had either of these problems. He squandered an inheritance that he failed to value!
Since November, the administration had been preparing to move the highest-profile Guantánamo prisoners — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four accomplices accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — to Manhattan for a federal criminal trial.
Bush — despite his reputation for simplicity — did understand the complexity of the problem, and he had a solution. There was stability. After posturing about "change" in his political campaign, Barack Obama seemed to think that he could apply the immense power he had won to changing things in the real world. And there is no blaming Bush for failing to know the difference between what sounds good and what works well.
George Bush — the extreme contrast to Barack Obama — knew that he was doing a lot of things that didn't sound good and left him open to harsh criticism, but he made a decision early on to accept that and to do what he thought was right. He didn't get enough credit for that. Maybe he will some day. But he also avoided the torrent of justified criticism that would have fallen on him if there had been further terrorist attacks.
Fortunately, there is a limit to how far Obama will go in his dream world of "hope and change." I voted for Obama, but the Obama I voted for was Obama the Pragmatist. I'm glad to see OTP finally emerging, even if part of his pragmatism is blaming Bush. But he will throw that aside if it doesn't work, which it shouldn't. For now, I'm glad he's making some better decisions... even as those freed detainees roam around Yemen.
ADDED: Click and scroll here for all my "Obama the Pragmatist" posts. Like, remember in August 2008 when Joe Biden assured us that Obama "is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done"? And then there was the time I said:
Forced to choose between Clinton and Obama [in the Wisconsin primary], I voted for Obama — even though he stated positions that were farther from what I want than Clinton's — because I thought he had more mental flexibility and pragmatism, that he was more likely absorb and process evidence and advice and exercise sound judgment.