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Senate Democrats, the Closing of Guantanamo, and the Obama Strategy: A Tentative Hypothesis

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The Senate Democrats appear to have acted as a check on Obama on what he wants to do at Guantanamo.  

Maybe that's what happened.

But maybe also the battlefield looks more grim to Obama over such issues as Guantanamo, and Obama decided he WANTED to be spared having to keep his commitment right now to move toward closing the base.

Look at what's happened.  The right wing has created this irrational boogie man of a fear about bringing those prisoners into this country.  They're beating the drum of fear to scare the American people into believing that bringing these terrorists into the United States by itself constitutes a grave threat to the safety of ordinary Americans.

Do we want terrorists in our midst?  the right wing shouts.

But of course, we've got serial killers and the Unibomber and countless other dangerous people in our prisons, and especially our maximal security prisons, and do we worry about what they might do to us?  Not at all, and it need be no different with these maybe-but-mostly-not terrorists.

Yet the right wing has decided to make this bogus issue to use the old fear card on an American people that has shown itself to be most vulnerable to being manipulated by fear.

So this is my guess:  Obama said,

"This right-wing fear-mongering is more viral than I thought.  These guys are making more intense war on me than I expected might be the case.

"So this thing with Guantanamo that I announced as soon as I took office I will now kick down the road a bit.  With Cheney and the other scare-mongers out there now making themselves and their torture and their warnings the main event in the country, even though we've got so much else on our national plate, this is not a moment to create areas of vulnerability.

"Let's have the Senate Democrats put an obstacle in my path-- but have it be one that we can get passed when we're ready to resume moving in that direction.

"They'll cut off the funds for doing what I announced, but they'll say that what they need is a good plan from us.  That will also give us an opportunity at that point to see where the public is:  they can examine our plan, and if the public proves to be vulnerable to the right-wing fear-mongering, the Senate can say the plan doesn't work for them, and then I'll have to refrain from opening up a vulnerability through which the right wing will try to shoot me down.

"The battle has been joined, and I'm pulling in some of my exposed flanks to make sure I'm the one who ends up the winner.

"So far it's going pretty well.  My approval numbers are more than three times as high as those of the Republicans, including Dick Cheney and the generic Republican." </blockquote>
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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