Good news from the “New Yorker”: Unlike Bush, Obama’s pretty conflicted about all the people he’s killing

posted at 2:41 pm on May 24, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via Matt Welch, behold the ne plus ultra of Obama counterterror apologetics courtesy of “New Yorker” contributor Jane Mayer. The next time The One launches a war that even his own lawyers think is illegal or drops a bomb on someone in Yemen because their movements are suspicious or detains someone indefinitely without trial, know this:

He’s pretty broken up about it.

One first impression left by President Obama’s much-anticipated speech re-casting U.S. counterterrorism policy is that of the contrast between Bush’s swagger and Obama’s anguish over the difficult trade-offs that perpetual war poses to a free society. It could scarcely be starker. While Bush frequently seemed to take action without considering the underlying questions, Obama appears somewhat unsure of exactly what actions to take. That is not a bad thing: at least he is asking the right questions. In fact, by suggesting that, after a decade and seven thousand American and countless foreign lives lost, and a trillion dollars spent, it might be time to start downsizing the “war on terror,” he is leading the national debate beyond where even most Democrats have dared to go…

Obama agonized over other limitations, too. Bush’s lawyers propounded the astonishingly radical theory that, as Commander-in-Chief, a President couldn’t be limited by domestic or international law. His lawyers dubbed it “the New Paradigm” and reasoned that if national security was at stake, no other legal constraints could stand in the President’s way. The Geneva Conventions became optional, cast aside as “quaint.” Obama embraced both constitutional and international legal limits, at least in principle, even as he struggled to define them in practice. In fact, his speech was a paean to the theory of “just war,” which requires a balance between means and ends, demanding proportionality whenever the state resorts to the use of force. It’s a sophisticated and nuanced moral theory, on which the law of conflict rests. Obama has openly grappled with the most difficult questions posed by the most serious thinkers in this area…

Obama’s evident pain over the [drone] program, whose civilian deaths he said would “haunt” him and his command “as long as we live,” seemed a telling change from the secrecy and winking smugness of the past.

That last line, with the sneer about “winking smugness,” is the tell. Memory-freshener: Bush waterboarded a grand total of three jihadis, one of whom was the mastermind behind 9/11, and bien-pensants like Mayer treated it as the end of the world. Obama’s liquidated four American citizens by drone strike, only one of whom by the admission of his own Attorney General was actually plotting terror attacks, but he’s “agonized” and “struggled” and “grappled” and suffered “anguish” over it, and, well, that’s sort of admirable. Bush was a dim, “incurious,” smirking chimp whereas Bambi can quote you passages from Niebuhr; their actions may be similar but their intellectual attitudes are different, and that’s what’s important.

What you’re seeing here is essentially David Brooks’s infamous admiration for the crease in Obama’s pants transported to the realm of counterterrorism. I can’t decide which aspect of it is most repulsive. Is it the solipsism involved in focusing on O’s inner turmoil while he’s busy firing missiles at people whose role in terrorism he hasn’t even confirmed? Is it the lazy caricature of Bush she falls back on in order to make Obama compare more favorably? Is it the very typical left-wing primacy given to intentions over results? Or is it the sense Mayer conveys that she’s trying to talk herself into believing this, to resolve the cognitive dissonance she feels between “knowing” that the Unicorn Prince is the opposite of the last guy and the fact that, in this particular area of policy, he’s a lot more similar to Bush than he is different?

It’s not just Mayer, either:

Welch is aghast in his post at the liberal transformation from screeching anti-warriors five years ago to boosters of “contemplative” hawkishness today. Quote: “Always remember this point, next time we have a Republican president. Democrats are, at best, temporary doves.” Absolutely true — polling data has confirmed it many times — but that’s to be expected, their preening self-righteousness during the Bush years notwithstanding. They’re not skeptics of government power, as Welch and other libertarians are; on the contrary. They’re skeptics of Republican power over government. Remove that power and install a liberal who’s “cerebral” with a “first-class temperament” and they’re perfectly willing to trust him, even when he’s bombing the hell out of people on no more than an educated guess that they’re bad guys. Some liberals have been quite candid about that. They trust him. Jane Mayer trusts him. They’re not as concerned about legal and structural limits on executive power with O in command because they trust that he’ll willingly restrain his own power before he goes too far. That’s what yesterday’s speech was really about, I take it — signalling to his base, whose support he needs right now in the midst of Scandalmania, that he’s still a contemplative, cerebral, cool-tempered C-in-C even when he’s mulling sending weapons to Syrian rebels who are filthy with jihadis in their ranks. Message: He cares. And no matter what ugly things might turn up in the next few weeks or months, he’ll still be That Guy that they thought he was circa 2008. Between Mayer’s apologia and MSNBC’s drivel, looks like it went over like gangbusters with the target audience.


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gag…well that didn’t take long. The MSM is back in full lovefest mode over their favorite son Barry.

neyney on May 24, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Feelings.

LOL

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 24, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Alex Wagner: Obama’s speech why we elected him, because he “thinks and thinks deeply” about issues like natsec, drone strikes. #Punditry

— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) May 24, 2013

Pity that he doesn’t think about ambassadors who are under attack.

rbj on May 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

And no matter what ugly things might turn up in the next few weeks or months, he’ll still be That Guy that they thought he was circa 2008. Between Mayer’s apologia and MSNBC’s drivel, looks like it went over like gangbusters with the target audience.

Said audience size being, what, 20 or 30 people?

nukemhill on May 24, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Alex Wagner: Obama’s speech why we elected him, because he “thinks and thinks deeply” about issues like natsec, drone strikes.

“Deep Thoughts” by Obama

Electrongod on May 24, 2013 at 2:48 PM

The Narcissist in Chief has NO feelings, except for his own grandiosity.

See Symptoms on the top/left too.

Schadenfreude on May 24, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Liberalism is more dead than terrorism.

Schadenfreude on May 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM

I’m sure that King Turdhead is very CONFLICTED about this too …

(just a reminder) … more U.S. soldiers were killed and wounded during obama’s first term in office than former President George W. Bush’s two terms

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/09/11/Mainstream-Media-Ignoring-Increase-In-Deaths-Wounded-In-Afghanistan-Under-Obama

Pork-Chop on May 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Whew! Then it’s a good thing we gave him that Peace Prize then.

Left Coast Right Mind on May 24, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Message: He cares. And no matter what ugly things might turn up in the next few weeks or months, he’ll still be That Guy that they thought he was circa 2008. Between Mayer’s apologia and MSNBC’s drivel, looks like it went over like gangbusters with the target audience.

Old/busted: Obama/Holder spied on the AP.

New/hotness: Obama cares about who he kills.

Bitter Clinger on May 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM

“When the president’s spokesman was asked about al-Awlaki’s son, you know what his response was? This I find particularly callous and particularly troubling. The president’s response to the killing of al-Awlaki’s sonhe said he should have chosen a more responsible father.”

So thoughtfully thoughtful.

Akzed on May 24, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Note to future R Presidents: It’s ok to start a war, kill American citizens, torture, illegally detain, etc. as long as you feel anguish about it.

blink on May 24, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Au contraire.

R Presidents are inhuman robots who are incapable of feeling anguish. Won’t wash with these folks.

Bitter Clinger on May 24, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Mayer supports her President Tabula Rasa; she’s conflicted, therefore, he is conflicted.

apostic on May 24, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Memories
May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget

Mason on May 24, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Wonder if he’d grapple with decisions like this if the targets were tea partiers and not Muslims. And would Jane Mayer care in that instance?

change is for suckers on May 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Fast-and-Furious, Benghazi and now drone attacks – the BLOOD OF AMERICANS drenches OBOZO, holder and Shrillary. They are the political equivalent of mass-murdering infanticide abortionist kermit gosnell.

TeaPartyNation on May 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM

I think what this New Yorker writer (and Allahpundit) seem to be missing here – is that they are drawing a contrast between where Obama may be now and where Bush was when he was more aligned with Cheney’s approach and agenda.
Bush ‘muted’ his gut (his feelings) earlier. But later he made very conscious decision to sideline Cheney.
My bet is that Bush has full empathy for Obama here…in that he also agonized over much of this…and strained to leave ‘the dark side’.

verbaluce on May 24, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Unlike Bush, Obama’s pretty conflicted about all the people he’s killing

Well, at least he hasn’t Beheaded anyone..YET.

ToddPA on May 24, 2013 at 3:02 PM

I hope it torments him to death. We could definitely use a manly president – someone with some Bush swagger. Then again, I’m looking forward to having a real president; we haven’t had one in more than four years.

MustLoveBlogs on May 24, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Spit

Faux outrage when a gop takes office once again

Double standard Arrrgghh

cmsinaz on May 24, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Not so conflicted about 4 dead Americans in Benghazi…breaking a few eggs to make an omelet…no biggie.

Jackalope on May 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

de rigueur on May 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

because he “thinks and thinks deeply”

Yeah, if he were capable of that, F&F, Benghazi, IRS, AP/FOX, Operation Free the Illegal Criminals, and a whole laundry list of other crimes would have attempted.

antipc on May 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

notropis on May 24, 2013 at 3:11 PM

de rigueur on May 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Damn, beat me to it!

notropis on May 24, 2013 at 3:12 PM

It’s a sophisticated and nuanced relativistic moral theory

a telling relatively minor change from the secrecy and winking smugness of the past few weeks

FIFY

College Prof on May 24, 2013 at 3:13 PM

Broken up?
Yeah, Riiiiiiiiiiggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhttttttttttttttt!

His concern probably brackets his worries about getting a hang-nail.

Another Drew on May 24, 2013 at 3:14 PM

verbaluce on May 24, 2013 at 3:02 PM

You hypocrites on the left are nuts and can’t even keep a consistent narrative going. GW Bush. Well-intentioned, just under the evil Darth Cheney’s spell, and too stupid to realize it. But wait, that’s not it. Bush was not well-intentioned, the damn cowboy, and he loved killing innocent women and children, and had a swagger while he did it. He was eeeeeevil! Nothing like having your cake and eating it too. And talk about living rent-free in a movements’ head. The left just cannot get over W.

change is for suckers on May 24, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Obama: I felt so bad about leaving our stranded soldiers to die on a Benghazi rooftop that night I could only choke down half a lobster tail at Jay-Z’s party.

Cicero43 on May 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

notropis on May 24, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Who knows? Given the way this site’s been behaving lately, I haven’t posted yet.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
[climate change!]
And whether pigs have wings.”

In Obama’s world, they all do.

de rigueur on May 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

If these folks were logically consistent, Bush would merely have to utter, “I had a messaging problem” and all would instantly be forgiven.

calbear on May 24, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Obama has a new theme song:

I am the walrus

notropis on May 24, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Thank you, AP ;)

Masterful, well sourced, and timely, rich in substance, clear in particulars, exquisite in tone. (A few mooonbat friends may receive a copy for study.)

kunegetikos on May 24, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Imagine being able to possess the ability to convince yourself (despite directly contradicting your ingrained ideology) that Barack Obama’s pure righteousness can turn obliterating 4 Americans into a heart-warming event…

The type of mental-gymnastics required for that is daunting.

@AsalamaTweetum

Opinionnation on May 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Now we know why Hussein had those 4 fluffers over at his palace , a few days ago !

burrata on May 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Ah, well

apostic on May 24, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Normally if someone is pretty conflicted about something they stop doing it. Simple stuff! The only reason the big oaf gave a speech about all this in the first place is to a) divert attention from the numerous scandals facing his administration, and b)to try and show his base that even though he made a campaign promise to close GITMO, and that the inmates down there are starving themselves to death, HE’s STILL ON IT.

scalleywag on May 24, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Cicero…. winner!

cmsinaz on May 24, 2013 at 3:28 PM

You were the girl that changed my world
You were the girl for me
You lit the fuse, I stand accused
You were the first for me
But you turned me out, baby

You dropped a bomb on me, baby
You dropped a bomb on me (But you turned me on, baby)
You dropped a bomb on me, baby
You dropped a bomb on me

You were my thrills, you were my pills
You dropped a bomb on me
You turn me out, you turn me on
You turned me loose, then you turned me wrong

You dropped a bomb on me, baby
You dropped a bomb on me (But you turned me out, baby)
You dropped a bomb on me, baby
You dropped a bomb on me

OxyCon on May 24, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Unlike Bush, Obama’s pretty conflicted about all the people he’s killing

Unlike Bush, Obama’s very supportive of all the people they’re killing in abortion mills.

itsnotaboutme on May 24, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Obama IS conflicted over who he kills. He was SO conflicted about killing those who killed Ambassador Stevens, and let them get away with it. The poor dears were SO heartbroken over a video about Mohammed! And he couldn’t keep the glitterati waiting for him in Vegas!

Steve Z on May 24, 2013 at 3:38 PM

gag…well that didn’t take long. The MSM is back in full lovefest mode over their favorite son Barry.

neyney on May 24, 2013 at 2:43 PM

The New Yorker is a far cry from being mainstream media.

ButterflyDragon on May 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM

“Deep Thoughts” by Obama

Electrongod on May 24, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Sometimes when I feel like killing someone, I do a little trick to calm myself down. I’ll go over to the persons house and ring the doorbell. When the person comes to the door, I’m gone, but you know what I’ve left on the porch? A jack-o-lantern with a knife stuck in the side of its head with a note that says “You.” After that I usually feel a lot better, and no harm done.

But mostly I use drones.

de rigueur on May 24, 2013 at 3:52 PM

The three individuals who were waterboarded for information under the Bush presidency are still alive.

Four Americans, only one of which was actually plotting terrorist activities, are dead under the Obama presidency.

This apologia for Obama from the LEFT is ludicrous. These are the same people who want to close Gitmo because it’s so ‘unfair’ and ‘inhuman’.

How unfair is it to decide that it’s simply more expedient politically to kill suspected terrorists with a drone strike than it might be to arrest them, interrogate them, imprison them in GITMO, and try them for their crimes?

I note that there are no figures detailing the number of casualities of non Americans. No figures detailing the number of non combatants who’ve been ‘eliminated’. Non combatants, of course, include women, children, the elderly, innocent bystanders who may have died or been maimed when the drone blew up the building housing the targeted individual. I’d be interested to see those figures. I wonder if any of Obama’s apologists would be eager to see them.

thatsafactjack on May 24, 2013 at 4:12 PM

So liberal contradictions continue.

The ends justify the means, unless the ends are the same as our political opponents. Then the result/ends are not important but the process/means are what is important. I guess this goes back to flexible ethics. Alinsky and liberals are full of contradictions.

weaselyone on May 24, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Pity that he doesn’t think about ambassadors who are under attack.

rbj on May 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Bravo. Well said, indeed.

thatsafactjack on May 24, 2013 at 4:17 PM

They’re not as concerned about legal and structural limits on executive power with O in command because they trust that he’ll willingly restrain his own power before he goes too far.

Like he’s restrained himself with the IRS? The DOJ? Federal spending? Executive orders on immigration? Recess appointments?

Yes, whenever I think of Obama and the exercise of executive power, “restraint” is the very first word that comes to mind!

No wonder these brilliant lefties are so willing to trust in Bathhouse Barry’s innate goodness.

AZCoyote on May 24, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Feelings

Bmore on May 24, 2013 at 6:57 PM

The most glaring winking smugness I can think of is the Obama administration trotting out the ludicrous story about spontaneous protesters with rocket launchers acting the Benghazi embassy on the anniversay of 9/11. Of course, they were counting on the gullibility of people like this. And they were right. This person probably still believes every word out of Obama’s moth is the truth, even when he contradicts himself in the same speech.

talkingpoints on May 24, 2013 at 7:26 PM

The bad news about this administration, the first black president has allowed the IRS to take Jim Crow voting laws nationwide. I hope he’s proud of his accomplishment.

bflat879 on May 24, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Another masterful takedown by AP.

Bravo

gwelf on May 24, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Look at the future. Scandal erupts about drone program and killings using drones as the weapon is declared illegal. Obama immediately goes on all the networks with eyes bulging and screaming “Michelle did it!”.

Herb on May 24, 2013 at 9:40 PM

conflicted…. for obl perhaps.

as far as American’s, that’s part of his plan.

actions speak loudly.

RealMc on May 25, 2013 at 8:25 PM