Slate's Dave Weigel recognizes Americans viewing the border crisis blame Barack Obama simply because he is the President. Mother Jones' Kevin Drum concludes
Republicans can basically do anything they want and never get blamed for it. Most voters don't even know who's in control of Congress anyway. When something goes wrong, all they know is (a) something went wrong, and (b) Barack Obama is the president and he should have done something about it.
This in turn prompts David Atkins to remark
There has to be an acknowledgment from the Executive Branch that Republicans in Congress are saboteurs, not legislators. Presidents tend to be reluctant to acknowledge the boundaries of their power so that the public doesn't perceive them as weak. But that ship has sailed. The government's clear inability to accomplish almost anything has already made that case. All that's left is to adjudicate the blame.
There's no reason not to simply come forward with a popular progressive legislative wish list, hold symbolic votes in the Senate, do whatever is possible via Executive Order, watch the lawsuits and impeachment threats roll in, and remind the American public every day through Election Day how Republicans are sabotaging the country.
Now more than ever, the country needs a fighter in the Oval Office--not a conciliator.
A conciliator is fine if there is someone to be conciliatory with. At a news conference Friday, President Obama conceded
I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.
But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that's what that report reflects. And that's the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.
I understand; some things were wrong; we mustn't retroactively feel too sanctimonious. It was Barack Obama at his patronizing best, but never mind. In essence, the torturers were (and are) patriots, the President maintains and, as Digby comments
is there any doubt after all this that any president, including Obama himself, will approve the use of torture if the CIA says it needs to use it in the future? Let's say when there is "enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this" and everybody is afraid? I didn't think so.
But the President's statement wasn't good enough for most Repubs. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported
.... the president's remarks acknowledging the milieu in which the CIA program was launched, when officials expected another attack could come at any time, were well-received by some former CIA officials.
"Sure, he called what we did 'torture,' but that's what he's been saying going back to his first campaign, so no surprise there," said former acting general counsel John Rizzo. "But I give him tremendous credit for noting that the folks, like me, who conceived and implemented the program were under tremendous pressure to protect the homeland in a time of national crisis. He even used the word 'patriots' to describe us."
Nonetheless, the newspaper (1980s-era term) noted "Mr. Obama's comments Friday are likely to draw new criticism from some Republicans, including former members and defenders of the Bush administration."
Of course they are. And leading the pack is Liz Cheney (video below, with the perpetually unreasonable Monica Crowley), the straight daughter of Liz and Dick, who responded
You’ve got crises erupting around the world and he’s expending [...] more aggressive activity in targeting and going after patriots, heroes, CIA officers and others who kept us safe after 9/11. He’s lying about what they did, he’s slandering them. He went to Cairo and did it in 2009. Today, he did it from the podium of the Oval Office. It’s a disgrace. It’s despicable.
President Obama viciously goes after lawbreakers, even smearing them as "real patriots." Whatever Obama's motivation- and Conor Friedersdorf senses a dark motive where there probably is a dark motive- the reaction to the President's remarks demonstrates that there is no satisfying some people, and those people are Republicans.