Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Change We Can't Decipher

As ABC News explained on September 13, 2008, the campaign slogan of "Change We Can Believe In" morphed into "Change We Need" shortly after Senator Barack Obama was formally nominated for President:

Barack Obama has suddenly changed his campaign slogan and signage replacing the 19 month Obama campaign event staple with a new one: "Change We Need."

The new slogan slowly started debuting after the convention but wasn't fully debuted as a package until this weekend in New Hampshire. The new campaign slogan is coupled with a new podium donning the familiar – yet slightly different - message, new campaign signs, and a large banner on stage behind Obama.

The colors, and design are the same – and could be quickly overlooked, yet the message is an important one that the Obama campaign is trying to push: that Obama is the change that now not only should you believe in, but it’s the change Americans need because of the state of their lives over the last 8 years under a Bush presidency.

Drawing a contrast with the McCain-Palin ticket, the Democratic nominee emphasized the great change coming to transform America: "Well I'm glad that they now agree with me but we've got to change America." But let's be absolutely clear about what change means - change isn’t just a word."

Ah, but it is, as we fast forward to December, 2010:

The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials.

The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change.

But the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

Nearly two years after Obama's pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo, more inmates there are formally facing the prospect of lifelong detention and fewer are facing charges than the day Obama was elected.

That is in part because Congress has made it difficult to move detainees to the United States for trial. But it also stems from the president's embrace of indefinite detention and his assertion that the congressional authorization for military force, passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, allows for such detention.

In October 2009- 14 months ago- The New York Times, back when it still appeared that the Obama Administration might not mimic the Bush Administration's penchant for secrecy and abuse of executive power, editorialized

The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up.

We have had recent reminders of this dismaying retreat from Mr. Obama’s passionate campaign promises to make a break with Mr. Bush’s abuses of power, a shift that denies justice to the victims of wayward government policies and shields officials from accountability.

The "cover-up" the Times observed continues. Admittedly, the apparent abridgement of civil liberties might be justified as regrettable, but unavoidable, given the importance of preserving national security. Might be, has not been. And when candidate Obama and his adoring crowds shouted "si se puede" on the campaign trail, they may have meant: yes, we can- continue some of the most egregious policies of the Bush Administration.

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