The Corner

Stray Thought

There are, of course, 10,000 things to say about President Obama’s national-security speech today, and I said just a few below. Once you start, it’s kind of hard to stop — sort of like eating potato chips. But let me offer just one more point — a somewhat offbeat one.

Obama said, “The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican presidents.”

I don’t remember a president’s talking this way: about the party affiliations of presidents who appointed Supreme Court justices. I don’t recall a president’s describing a Court that way. Been following politics for a while. And I’ve never heard an important presidential national-security speech that sounded so much like a campaign speech — even in the midst of an actual campaign.

The longer you look at or ponder the speech, the less merely gassy and more offensive it appears — at least to me.

You want a contrast with Cheney’s? Cheney devoted the end of his speech to hymning the CIA interrogators who used the controversial techniques. He said,

Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well.

Obama cited these very interrogations as an abomination, proof that we had lost our way, our moral bearings — had been untrue to ourselves.

Yes, these two speeches were very sharply contrasting — dueling, in that sense (even though Obama covered some of his Bush adoptions in rhetorical fog).

Hey, didn’t I say I had just one more point?

P.S. Obama said that the interrogations made us less safe — much less safe. Cheney said the opposite: that they had made the country much more safe. Big, big difference.

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