Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shoot It To Me Straight

Its pretty apparent that White House counsel, Greg Craig has been offered up as sacrificial lamb over President Obama's failure to keep the closure of GITMO on his own self imposed timeline. Now the truth is the real failure came from the White House when Republicans and their wingnut allies in the blogosphere and on talk radio took to the airways to fear monger over bringing GITMO detainees to America in order to make sure they faced justice. Not only did the White House not attempt to counter this ridiculous messaging, they didn't even support the Democrats in Congress who tried to do so on their behalf.

Now I remember one of the members of Congress who was most forceful in pushing back on the right wing bullshit was Congressman Jim Moran. It turns out that he isn't happy about how Craig is being treated and he doesn't mind telling it like it is.

"Those of us on the Hill who wanted to defend the administration's policy because we knew we had the facts on our side got no back up, no support, no information," Moran said, speculating that the Obama team simply didn't want to spend political capital on the issue.

That became clear to Moran and others in Congress in May, when the war funding bill was moving through Congress and Republicans took to the airwaves to decry the plan to shudder the prison. "We were at the Alamo, and the cavalry was galloping in the other direction," said Moran, "I think it was a political decision. I don't know who made it, but I very much doubt it was Greg Craig."

Other key appropriators who were trying to fund the effort, such as defense subcommittee chairman Jack Murtha, D-PA, and Appropriations chairman David Obey, D-WI, couldn't and wouldn't fight the Republican machine without Obama's help.

"They talked to the White House and the White House wasn't willing to stand alongside them," said Moran. The thinking among Democrats was, "If we can't take advantage of Obama's credibility on this issue, we probably are not going win."

Now the administration is trying to press the reset button on Guantánamo, but Moran argued the damage is done and it is now nearly impossible to sell the idea of moving the prisoners to U.S. soil.

"This is their first major fuck up, and it's an enormous fuckup, because now that you've lost ground you're not going to be able to recover it," said Moran.

Moran is harsh here but exactly on point also. To me this situation along with the fight over the stimulus bill showed that the White House was somewhat gun shy on their own legislative agenda. This signaled to he right wingers that as long as they were loud and as long as they were repetitive, they could make President Obama and his White House back away from issues they saw as politically difficult. It will be interesting to see where we go from here because Moran doesn't seem very hopeful about the closing of GITMO anymore. And honestly considering how he himself put his ass on the line only to get sold out by he White House, can you blame him at all?

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