Posted by: Paul | 06/24/2009

Tortured Logic on the Left

Say you’re a liberal who voted for President Obama. You cheered when he criticized the Bush administration for the way it was conducting the war on terror. But now your guy is in office, and he (*shudder*) has adopted some of Bush’s policies. Sure, he banned “torture,” but he’s continuing the “prolonged detention” of certain terrorism suspects.

Do you call Obama out? Or do you reconsider your opposition to the Bush position?

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has an answer: You ding Obama for his apparent change of heart.

At first, this may seem commendably principled. After all, getting a liberal to utter a negative word about Obama would seem about as easy as getting a conservative to criticize President Reagan. But it’s not as high-minded as it may appear. After all, supporting Obama on this issue would mean giving Bush credit for being right about something. That — not leaving Obama unmolested by criticism — is the true bridge that Bob Herbert and many other liberals refuse to cross.

What specifically bugs Herbert is the human-rights implications of the Bush/Obama policy of “prolonged detention.” (I love writing the phrase “Bush/Obama policy,” which must drive liberals nuts.) According to Herbert, it’s wrong to hold a terror suspect without charging him and without trying him. (I imagine he sees himself in the Henry Fonda role in “12 Angry Men.”) But this is misguided.

The fact is, we’re fighting an unprecedented type of war — one that forced policymakers to scramble in the wake of 9/11 to find new ways to protect Americans.

I don’t mean that terror suspects should be treated any way we please. But we’re dealing with an implacable enemy — one hell-bent on bringing violent death to the “Great Satan.” I know we have our faults (I’m no fan of reality TV, either), and we should certainly make every effort to follow the law — at least, as best we can in these uncharted waters. But when you’re dealing with an enemy willing to do anything and everything to make you die in the most violent manner imaginable, isn’t it better to err on the side of caution?

Sorry, Bob. My primary interest is seeing that my family and my country is safe. If, despite our best efforts to target only the bad guys, a non-terrorist is detained for an indefinite period of time, so be it.

But are we, in fact, dealing with non-terrorists? Has Herbert even considered the possibility that the candidate of “change” got into office, saw the raw dossiers on these people, and then changed his mind because of it? Obama knows full well he’s making no friends on the Left by embracing any of Bush’s policies. Maybe he’s taking that risk because he knows these prisoners are, in fact, bad news?

I doubt Herbert has thought of that. After all, he claims we’re involved in a “so-called war on terror.” Yes, “so-called.” Anyone who can write that post 9/11 doesn’t understand how serious this fight really is.

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