The Corner

And Then There Was Only Guantánamo . . .

With the Democratic no-go on Guantánamo (I’ll leave it to the better informed to ascertain the degree that the Democratic Congress came to the rescue of an embarrassed Obama administration and cut off funding for the shutdown to allow him an out with the now familiar excuse of “they did it — not me, who keeps promises”), I think we now have come to the end to the five-year left-wing attack theme of Bush “shredding the Constitution.”

Except for the introduction of euphemisms and a few new ballyhooed but largely meaningless protocols, there is no longer a Bush-did-it argument. The Patriot Act, wiretaps, e-mail intercepts, military tribunals, Predator drone attacks, Iraq, Afghanistan — and now Guantánamo — are officially no longer part of the demonic Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld nexus, but apparently collective legitimate anti-terrorism measures designed to thwart killers, and by agreement, after years of observance, of great utility in keeping us safe the last eight years.

Add in the Holder statements about Guantánamo in the 2002 interview, the Pelosi/Rockefeller/et al. waterboarding briefings, the need to consider torture in past statements by senators such as Schumer, and I think historians will now look back at these “dark years” as largely a collective, bipartisan effort.

All of which leaves us a final musing: If so, what was the hysteria of 2001-2008 about other than simple politics?

I doubt we get any more movies about ongoing renditions, redactions, any more Checkpoint-like novels, any more waterboarding skits and reenactments, any more late-night comedians doing their Bush tapped, intercepted, tortured, renditioned, tribunaled poor suspect X routines.

And I guess as well that the good old days of supposedly flushed Korans in Guantánamo and Omar the poor liberationist renditioned to Cairo are over. We are now in the age of a sober and judicious President Obama who circumspectly, if reluctantly and in anguish at the high cost, does what is necessary to keep us safe.

And we won’t see a brave young liberal senator, Obama-like, barnstorming the Iowa precincts blasting a presidency for trampling our values with the shame of Guantánamo, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, military tribunals, Predators, Iraq, etc. That motif just dissolved — or rather, it never really existed.

It short, all the fury, the vicious slander, the self-righteous outbursts, the impassioned speeches from the floor, the “I accuse” op-eds by the usual moralistic pundits — all that turned out to be solely about politics, nothing more.

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