Green Room

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Obama

posted at 9:29 am on January 27, 2010 by

Earlier this month, 19 House Democrats from New York added their signature to a letter by Rep. Michael McMahon (D-Staten Island), calling on the Obama administration to reimburse the city and state of New York for the cost of security of trying 9/11 co-conspirators in a New York civilian court. Admittedly, it’s a step in the right direction to oppose the actions of an administration whose actions are increasingly losing favor with the American people. At the same time, isn’t it just like Democrats to miss the forest for the trees?

The cost of the trial is the least of the problems New Yorkers and Americans in general have with the decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of 9/11, here rather than in a military tribunal. The bigger issue is the Obama administration’s weak stance on national security, a dramatically candid glimpse of which was provided on by the botched handling on Christmas Day of the underpants bomber. After 50 minutes of interrogation by the FBI, in which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab freely admitted that other attacks were in the works, the interview was cut short on orders from the Justice Department. The terrorist was promptly read his Miranda rights and then permitted to lawyer up after which he clammed up.

Although the administration has tried lamely to defend this decision — by, for example, having spokesman Robert Gibbs appear on FOX News Sunday to claim that “useful intelligence was gotten” — the incident made it abundantly clear that Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, subscribe to a pre-9/11 mentality. This is a recipe for disaster.

Which is why New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio drafted a letter of his in response to McMahon’s that highlights the sheer lunacy of proceeding as planned with the 9/11 trials. The letter, addressed to Congress, noted the duty of “representatives of the people to stand up not just for our own personal ideology, but for the basic views and values we swore to protect. This decision runs anathema to those basic views and values.” The letter is reprinted in its entirety at Human Events, which has also drafted a petition to Holder that currently has over 118,000 signatures. You can add your own by visiting this link.

With three quarters of the American populace now opposed to giving suspected terrorists the rights of U.S. citizens, which include the right to a “trial by one’s peers,” this misguided decision now becomes the latest in a succession of damned-if-he-does, damned-if-he-doesn’t decisions confronting Obama. As with his benighted health care agenda, if he goes forward with the plans to conduct the 9/11 trials a few blocks from ground zero, he will be viewed as resisting the will of the people. If he relents, he will lose even more political currency with his dwindling far-left base, while telegraphing the message to the entire electorate that he botched a critical decision in the first place.

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Caught between Barack and a hard place

EliTheBean on January 27, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Since Lazio’s negatives in New York State — mainly in the NYC area — center around his daring to step in for Giuliani and challenge Hillary for the Senate in 2000, what he really needs her to purge that thought from swing voters’ heads is to get Hillary on the record as Secretary of State supporting the Obama/Holder plan to try the terrorists in Lower Manhattan. This year is similar to 1994, when NYS voters were willing to toss Mario Cuomo in favor of George Pataki, but George was a blank slate to most New Yorkers, where Rick has the 2000 negatives to overcome among those marginal swing voters who hunt for any reason to vote Democratic before they’ll finally give in and vote Republican (Patterson’s opposition to the trial costs is just about the only plus he’s got going for himself in the Democratic Primary, though I can’t believe Andrew Cuomo would be dumb enough to make that a point of contention. But I also can’t see Andrew opposing Obama on anything but the cost reimbursement issue of the trial).

jon1979 on January 27, 2010 at 10:21 AM

I just hope he is learning that the world is not the way many academics like to pretend it is.

David Shane on January 27, 2010 at 10:56 AM

I seem to recall reading someplace the senate was thinking of with holding funds for the trial. If this is true, that might stop the trial. I have also heard the total cost over years and years could be over 1 billion dollars. This trial would be a zoo like that gal being tried now, I can’t remember her name, but she is a real sweetheart!

letget on January 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

He’ll mention himself a couple of hundred times, blame Bush, then go play golf. At least that’s the pattern so far.

Robert17 on January 27, 2010 at 7:14 PM