I recently read a very strange letter to The Post Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota. I consider it strange because it was posted on the twenty-second of January. This is not to imply that letters written to the editor and posted on January 22 are inherently strange.
What's strange about this particular letter is that the writer refers to an answer President Obama offered during his January 11 interview with George Stephanopoulos. The President made the measured statement that closing Guantánamo Bay is going to be "more difficult than I think a lot of people realize."
The writer wonders if Obama had considered this fact while he was promising to close the facility during his campaign. She finds it incredulous that "only now, after high-level security briefings, Obama finally realizes the ramifications of closing Gitmo." She tells us that, if this is the case, "then perhaps he is more of a dunce than the left has been claiming Bush is."
The only other possibility, according to the writer, is that Obama really knew that closing Gitmo wouldn't be a piece of cake. Consequently, she concludes that Obama "had to know he was lying every time he mentioned it on the campaign trail."
Her sources include "the common-sense people I encounter--hard-working, blue-collar people who didn't go to Harvard". She uses these people as references because they "immediately recognize this to be a bad idea."
As I'm quite certain that the letter was written before it was posted, probably a few days before it was posted, the writer didn't know the pending irony underlying the posting of her letter on the very day that The President signed the executive order ensuring that Gitmo would, indeed, be closed within one year.
Was the writer insinuating that President Obama's statement to Stephanopoulos was a prelude to reneging on that campaign promise? If so, she obviously miscalculated.
Even if that was not her implication, she somehow considers Obama a "bigger deceiver than the left has been claiming Bush is".
I read quite a few Obama campaign speeches, hoping to find one in which he encouraged "millions of wide-eyed idealists to ignore the reality of the situation and believe that Gitmo could easily be closed." However, I did not find one speech made by Barack Obama in which he guaranteed that closing America's shameful "detention center" at Guantánamo Bay would be quick and easy.
In one speech in which he opined that Gitmo should be closed, Obama said that The US should have "developed a real military system of justice that would sort out the suspected terrorists from the accidentally accused".
In February of 2008, Obama said that the trials of those detained at Gitmo are "too important to be held in a flawed military commission system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks and that has been embroiled in legal challenges".
Another Obama campaign statement regarding Gitmo was that the existence of the gulag "sends a negative message to the world" and taints even trade-deal negotiations.
"To the extent that we are not being true to our values and our ideals, (the existence of the Guantánamo facility) sends a negative message to the world, and it gives us less leverage, then, when we want to deal with countries that are abusing human rights", Obama said in December of 2007.
During the Stephanopoulos interview, rather than appearing to have changed his mind about closing Gitmo, the then President-elect said, “We are going to get it done, but part of the challenge that you have is that you have got a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication.”
The last statement appears to have been made by a man who is adamant about closing Gitmo, although he is not under the illusion that it will be quick or easy. The writer of the letter to the Post Bulletin, like so many who actually want Obama to fail, took just enough from the interview to conclude that the president has already failed to live up to one of his most important campaign promises.
If there were "millions of wide-eyed idealists" who interpreted anything that Obama said during his campaign as a prediction that closing Gitmo would be fast and easy, their interpretation had and still has no basis in fact. From where I sit, which is not on top of the world, able to know what the millions of Obama supporters are thinking, most Obama supporters didn't hear him promise that closing the gulag would be a fast and painless process. I'll go further than that.
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