Being Frank

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

It Would Have Been Easier Just to Tell the Truth

Given the recent arrests of several jihadist plotters, we can be thankful that Obama did not, as once promised in various early manifestations, end renditions, wiretaps, intercepts, and the Patriot Act (“shoddy and dangerous”). So far he has not closed Gitmo; and it does not seem that he will do so within the promised year. Then 95 percent of the public was promised either no new taxes or a tax credit; that now seems quite impossible, given the vast new spending proposals and commensurate $2 trillion annual deficit. Given federal shortfalls, we have already seen massive new state income taxes and higher user taxes at the local level; and the crushing deficits will mean higher income or payroll taxes, or else a new value-added tax; the latter would raise taxes on everyone at rates heretofore unknown.

Meanwhile, the healthcare bill has gone from a public plan to a public-option plan to no one quite knows what, when, or if — other than if it’s passed, taxes will soar there too. No need to go into depth on the sensational promises of new transparency — not when the NEA is trying to run a ministry of correct art, a government website wants the addresses of “fishy” opponents, bills are not posted as promised, and town-hall dissidents are demonized as a Nazi-like mob and, by administration supporters, as racist.

On the foreign front, in Iraq we have seen not the Obama “combat brigades out by March 2008” plan, but rather the Petraeus plan. And the grand talk of October reengagement with Iran was predicated, as we know now, on suppressing intelligence estimates of a second nuclear facility whose disclosure would have rendered inoperative the always suspect 2007 “no bomb” National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.

Bottom line? It would have been a lot simpler just to have told the truth, and now to adhere to the truth, rather than all this deceptive hope-and-change hocus-pocus.

Bush Is Still Doing It . . .

“Bush did it” is now apparently the reason we can’t close Guantanamo within a year. From the Washington Post:

[Gregory] Craig said Thursday that some of his early assumptions were based on miscalculations, in part because Bush administration officials and senior Republicans in Congress had spoken publicly about closing the facility. “I thought there was, in fact, and I may have been wrong, a broad consensus about the importance to our national security objectives to close Guantanamo and how keeping Guantanamo open actually did damage to our national security objectives,” he said.

I’m trying to follow the logic and timeline here: Bush faces bad/worse choices to stop another 9/11, opens Guantanamo. Most agree with the decision, including the likes of Eric Holder. Then as time passes, the terrorist threat here at home seems to wane as partisan politics wax. So Guantanamo suddenly becomes an issue to tar Bush as some sort of anti-civil liberties zealot. Under pressure, Bush agrees the facility has become an albatross, promises to close it, and begins slowly and gradually not to accept more detainees and to release a few. No matter — Obama energizes his campaign by claiming the fact that Guantanamo is still open is proof of a conservative anti-constitutional assault, and loudly and repeatedly promises to close it by January 2010. By September 2009, Obama sees that he can’t do that so rapidly without risking U.S. security, given the sort who are still in Guantanamo. Now, in explanation of this broken promise, his Guantanamo czar claims that Obama cannot fulfill his vow apparently because Bush (out of office for nine months) and Co. were not supportive enough of the wide Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and the Democratic administration.


©2009 Victor Davis Hanson

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