Why do I bring up this hearsay now? Because President Obama seems to be demonstrating this behavior in the oval office. At least twice now he has clearly embarrassed his top aides and left them hanging in the breeze.
First Obama did it by absolutely contradicting his administration's representatives during the AIG Bonus disclosure. But yesterday's reversal on investigation and possible criminal prosecution of Bush administration officials for "enhanced interrogation" is even more telling.
Here's the report from The Boston Globe:
|President Obama left the door open yesterday to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and did not rule out action by the Justice Department against those who fashioned the legal rationale for those techniques.|
The remarks, in response to questions from reporters in the Oval Office, amounted to a shift for the White House. The president had repeatedly said that the nation should look forward rather than focusing on the past, and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said Sunday in a television interview that Obama believed that "those who devised policy" should not be prosecuted.
But under intense pressure from congressional Democrats and human rights organizations to investigate, the president suggested yesterday that he would not stand in the way of a full inquiry into what he has called "a dark and painful chapter" in the nation's history.
The comments knocked the ordinarily smooth White House press operation back on its heels. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, spent much of his daily briefing yesterday trying to explain precisely what Obama had meant, declaring at one point, "To clear up any confusion on anything that might have been said, I would point you to what the president said."
The real questions all remain. Why did President Obama clearly reverse a decision he had so clearly made and articulated for many months. It was extremely obvious from Rahm Emanuel's smooth and articulate performance under fire on Sunday that this policy had been thoroughly vetted in White House meetings.
Why the flip-flop? Most speculation surrounds an uproar and very intense pressure from the left, led by the liberal activist group Move-On.org and key Congressional leaders.
Obviously left open is how this investigation and potential prosecution will play out. It will likely paralyze the administration and Congress for months and perhaps years. Clearly President Obama had (past tense) wanted to avoid this modern day version of the Spanish Inquisition. Yet he has now put the drama into full motion.
Most important, in my opinion, will be the paralyzing impact this ill advised reversal will have on the CIA and President Obama's own executive staff and advisers.
I've seen this type of second guessing absolutely destroy organizations. It doesn't produce better opinions. It stops all opinions all together. President Obama will quickly start receiving less advice from staffers, especially second level staffers who do 95% of all work in the administration. Folks quickly figure out they never get in trouble for saying nothing. Being non-committal is the new order of the day.
The 9-11 Commission placed great blame for the failure of our intelligence community on the restrictive policies in place to prevent abuses by the intelligence community. There is no doubt in my mind this will ultimately harm our nation's intelligence gathering efforts. Once again we will be unable to connect the dots.
I genuinely believe President Obama had thought through all of this. I simply don't understand yet why the President reinvented his decision.