Well, Obama really didn’t really want to give this speech. He had to. I mean, he wasn’t elected to be a national security president. He is a domestic president, and that’s his agenda.
But his hand was forced because there was an open rebellion in Congress over the Guantanamo issue. The senators wanted a decision, and he gave them an essay. The senators wanted a president, and he gave them a professor.
What he did was he outlined the five categories of prisoners in Guantanamo, an interesting exercise that you would expect out of a graduate student, in which you have got those who can be tried in regular courts and those who have to be in military tribunals, and those that will not be taken by allies, as if any allies are taking them, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, a freshman in college could tell you that.
And then he says the fifth category, those whom you cannot try, either because the crimes are committed but the evidence is tainted, or because they have not yet committed a crime but they sure as hell will if released, there are those whom you cannot try and you cannot release. And then he says, “And that’s the really difficult issue.”
No kidding. I mean, who would have thought that was the problem about these prisoners? Of course everybody knows that.
So what was his answer? He doesn’t have an answer. What he says is he is going to work with Congress and work out a framework of detaining these people.
I think that’s right. We’ve frequently seen polls say that the public likes President Obama much more than his policies. This was an effort by the president to paste an extra measure of his personal popularity onto a policy no one wants.
Plus, Peter Wehner notices the hypocrisy of the president’s choice of venue:
I couldn’t help but notice that during his speech yesterday, President Obama spoke in reverential terms about the Constitution. Yet when it comes to his own judicial philosophy — and, I expect, to his Supreme Court nominee — the Constitution will be viewed with a great deal less veneration. It will be seen as a “living” document, one that has no fixed meaning and can be reinterpreted for any reason at all, with new rights being manufactured out of thin air and rights enumerated in the Constitution conveniently ignored.