Obama's been president for a little over three months and a lot of liberals have got their knickers in a bunch-- and even more conservatives. My observation over the years is that this is usually a sign you're doing your job well.
I would, though, like to address some specific things.
First off, I've read a lot of criticism that President Obama has not put an immediate end to the military tribunals over people who were gathered in the aftermath of 9/11. A few things: first, it was not the tribunals that were a problem. It was the manner in which they were conducted. The military lawyers who were assigned to "defend" people being tried were the first raise objections. It was made clear to them that they would not have access to anything that they might actually defend their clients with-- and it was increasingly clear to them that a lot of these guys had nothing to do with Al Queda, 9/11 or any other threat to the United States. The Bush administration had been guilty of a monumental failure to act on loads of credible intelligence information that the 9/11 attacks were going to occur. They needed some good show trials to divert attention from this, and guilt or innocence was irrelevant.
Now the Obama administration is left to deal with this mess-- the illegal seizures and detentions, the torture. And somewhere in the middle of this are a handful of guys who are actually guilty. And to compound matters, there are guys who weren't guilty who undoubtedly now hate the United States, thanks to their seizure and detention, enough to go out to join Al Queda. How do we deal with them? None of this is going to be simple.
Then there are those who are demanding that the Obama administration launch a prosecution of members of the Bush administration for their various crimes. I agree that these people should be prosecuted at some point, but what's the rush? They aren't going anywhere any time soon, and the evidence of their crimes isn't going away. The Obama administration is faced with a bunch of huge problems-- the economy, energy policy, schools, etc. Blogger and co-worker Phil and I were discussing it the other night at work. Do you want to see the country grind to a halt for 2 or 3 years? Do you want to give a great cause for the far right to mobilize around? Then put all of those other things aside and prosecute them, by all means. No, Obama is absolutely correct to prioritize the other things for now. As the economy recovers and he makes legislative headway on the important issues, it'll weaken the right and hasten the Republican Party's slide into irrelevance and oblivion and grease the skids of an eventual prosecution of the war criminals and torturers.
As I've watched Obama come from a long-shot Democratic candidate to President, I've come to realize that the guy is a political genius. And nothing has shown that genius more than his choice of Sonia Sotomayor to fill the seat being vacated by Souter.
The Republican Party is in a froth. It's tune is being dictated by a guy who has never been elected to anything in his life or served in any governmental post, Rush Limbaugh. The most electable guy in the party, Colin Powell, a bona-fide hero who could probably swing a lot of votes from moderate Democrats, has been demonized. Now, the Republican Party is about to burn off a lot of the pitifully small amount of political capital it has left in a fight against a Supreme Court nominee who was first brought to the federal bench by one of their own, George H.W. Bush.
This has only begun, and it's going to get worse, for reasons I shall explain in an upcoming post. The Republican Party is going to become loonier and loonier, until one of two things happen: either one of their steady-- and sensible-- stalwarts, like Colin Powell or George H.W. Bush comes to the fore, grabs the reins away from the nutjobs and saves the party or they contnue on the path they're on now, into oblivion.