A Few Notes Regarding Today's Speech(es):
Sure, the Rude Pundit's biased, but, c'mon, no matter what side you're on, you gotta admit: President Barack Obama knows how to nut up. Attacked on the left and right for what both perceived as weakness either on his promises of change in Bush policies or on security itself, Obama spoke today at the National Archives to say, more or less, "Stop acting like the other guy is still President, you poor, traumatized bastards."
On one level, Obama's speech was a rhetorical technique from his campaign: when people are talking shit about you, confront the shit directly. So there he was, slapping down the bases for torture, for Gitmo, for the prosecution of the retarded "war on terror," saying that he didn't run the car off the cliff, but he sure as fuck is gonna pick up the glass and mop up the blood: "In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place." And then he laid out a framework for understanding what has to happen on the road to closing Gitmo. He treated us like grown-ups, like he wasn't reading My Pet Goat to grade school students, but teaching De Tocqueville to college seniors.
But on another level, what Obama was doing was removing the unitary executive idea from the center of the government. Said the President, "[W]e are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability." He voiced, again and again, that things are different now; essentially, what he's saying is "The Bush administration made the other branches into accessories, cock rings to enhance its fucking. But they are cocks that can stand and fuck on their own. Grow the fuck up, Congress." And so he repeatedly insisted that Congress and the courts exercise their oversight responsibilities. He, in essence, set them free from the shackles Bush and Cheney had clasped them in. Obama actually respects the nation and, as he pointed out, the will of the people in the last election. (Obama went out of his way a bit to give his perspective on Gitmo and torture bipartisan street cred.)
Most stunning, though, was his assertion of how the government should deal with the crimes of the past administration, and it ain't a Truth Commission: "I have opposed the creation of such a Commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability. The Congress can review abuses of our values, and there are ongoing inquiries by the Congress into matters like enhanced interrogation techniques. The Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws."
Do you get that? President Obama is telling the Congress not to be punk ass bitches about investigating, that the legislative branch should keep the executive branch honest, that punishing crimes is what we're supposed to do. Obama used this speech on national security to say that the way to be safe is to defend what makes America American and for everyone to do their fucking jobs.
Finally, he kicked Bush and Cheney in their taints at the close of his speech: "We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America - it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people, as one nation. We have done so before in times that were more perilous than ours." Now that's how to stand tall and say, "C'mon, fuck with me."
Cheney, Briefly: Dick Cheney, wheezing his way through his speech, opened by talking about how he was cowering in a bunker on 9/11 and his horribly scarred psyche changed how he thought about the world. The fact that Cheney admitted that he was a PTSD sufferer and that's how he responded to the world pretty much negates everything he said after. Fuck him. He's not worthy to be called Cthulu or Satan anymore.