Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where Is Barack Obama?

A commenter named "marksb" on firedoglake.com displayed impressive eloquence Monday when he speculated, probably accurately, on the reaction a Senator Obama would have were he attacked as has Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

The Speaker flubbed this. Imagine Obama in the same situation: “Folks are saying I was briefed and I didn’t say anything in protest. Well that’s just a shiny object to redirect your attention from the fact that our government, the leaders of our government, demanded, approved, and conducted torture in the name of the American people. Now they can point their fingers at Congress all they want about this or that technicality, but the shame and responsibility of violating international and US law, of conducting torture and maybe murder, is on their hands alone, and we need to get to the bottom of this mess.”

But Barack Obama can speak up: in fact, he is more credible than Nancy Pelosi on the matter of the intelligence briefings from the Central Intelligence Agency because he is not in the same situation. He would be recognized as more objective than Speaker Pelosi, embroiled as she is in this faux controversy drummed up by the GOP and its enabling mainstream media. And he is far more popular than the Speaker and can trade on that popularity. Further, he has the stature, as President, to make a statement- perhaps even more eloquent than the one posted by marksb- on behalf of the country: Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and unregistered individuals.

Thus far, that voice, or statement, is lacking. The sentiment expressed on Monday's The Ed Show on MSNBC by Ed Schultz was right on target:

Now, the key question for the White House tonight I also think is, what is the downside for the White House when it comes to supporting Nancy Pelosi? They are ominously and curiously silent on all of this, just hoping this all goes away. And I don‘t think that‘s a good play for the Democrats.

Mr. Obama may figure that Mrs. Pelosi can gut it out, muddle through, through Memorial Day. Perhaps he is reasoning that if the controversy has not abated by then, he can intervene rhetorically, even dramatically, on her behalf. But with each passing day, the suspicion grows that though the President's silence surely is not a good play for Democrats, that President may believe it is a good play for him.

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