Manning-Assange-Snowden: These Final Days

Presidents do some funny things in their last days. Sometimes in their last hours. Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich is famous. But equally interesting — equally infamous — in those last hours is this: He granted clemency to two Weather Underground terrorists, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans. This got lost in the Rich hoopla.

After the midterm elections of 2014, President Obama made an interesting statement — a funny statement, and I believe a true statement. He said that someone had asked him, “Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?” (That is, a list of things you want to accomplish before you leave office.) He said, “No. But I have a list that rhymes with ‘bucket list.’”

Good one, huh?

And he has been checking them off. Cuba (in several ways). Israel (high and dry at the U.N.). Manning.

How about Julian Assange? He said that, if Obama sprang Manning, he would turn himself in to the U.S. authorities. Will he make good on that?

These days, Assange gets a warmer reception on the American right than he does on our left. You can see it on Fox News and elsewhere. Sarah Palin issued him an outright apology. Before, she had blasted him as an enemy of humanity, and of America in particular. But the 2016 presidential campaign changed her mind.

I think she was right the first time.

And how about Edward Snowden, who has long been in Putin’s arms? Which president is more likely to be lenient toward him? The outgoing one or the incoming one? Whose camp is more supportive of him? Obama’s or Ron Paul’s?

And so on.

These are screwy times in our politics, and the springing of Manning is outrageous. I wonder how much of it has to do with his/her sex change (or whatever the right terminology is). If Manning had remained stubbornly a man — would he have seemed so sympathetic to the president and others?

Maddening.

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