As he exhaled his oratory on the flag-draped stage of National Defense University, Barack Obama sounded like a strung-out rambling addict who grudgingly admits that he should probably cut back on his costly and deadly drugs, but just not yet. Not today. He's still in the bargaining stage. Quitting now would provoke too much tension. He's got plenty of time. He still thinks he's invincible and America is invincible, despite all those pesky little symptoms that keep popping up: crushing poverty, crumbling bridges, and civic rumblings here at home, dismal approval ratings abroad. A condemnation from the United Nations here, blowback there. But right now, he really needs that cigarette, that drink, that snort of coke, that vicarious thrill of the joystick, that puff of smoke, that bugsplat. He promises he'll cut back, though. Really truly he does. Trust him, he says.
I suppose that once you've indulged yourself with the power to kill at will, it must be a very hard habit to break. So let the bargaining and the obfuscation begin. First, the bait and switch -- he'll transfer the drone program from the secretive CIA to the "more accountable" special ops of the Defense Department. I'd say it's like a nicotine fiend trading Camels for Salem Menthol Lights and calling it an embrace of a healthier lifestyle. But Barack is too much into the hard stuff for that analogy. He's more like the guy who promises his concerned family members that from now on, he'll smoke crack in a locked bathroom rather than in the closet of the locked bathroom.
He'll appoint yet another expendable hack to make a list of potential Gitmo transfers. He'll play Santa Claus and check it twice, and then, to great fanfare and self-approbation, repatriate a few emaciated "folks" back over to Yemen. Once there, he'll no doubt secretly arrange for them to be housed with investigative journalist Abdullelah Haider Shaye, whose imprisonment Obama himself orchestrated when the reporter got too nosy and truthy about the women and children getting killed by his drone strikes.
You see, when Barack Obama says that he loves freedom of the press, he means it in terms of their freedom to take his dictation. But when reporters ask questions of his underlings behind his back? They must be tamped down like one of his cigarettes. Shaye is thrown in jail over there, reporters are frozen out and and spied upon and threatened over here. The second-hand smoke we're allowed to inhale will be of the hygienically filtered variety, the pretense being that selective toxins are safe toxins. Barack Obama is selling you his lethal foreign policy the same way tobacco companies sell you their safe cigarettes.
He'll task another task force to draw up secret plans to set up a secret court to review his secret kill list. He'll appoint the attorney general to look into the same first amendment abuses that the attorney general himself orchestrated. That's the trouble with untreated addiction to a powerful drug. You don't even notice the nightmare quality of your own actions, the fact that your oratorical orifice is now spewing doubletalk. Just a few examples:
We must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.Translation: Persistent efforts against specific networks the wide world over are different from boundless efforts against the specific networks taken as a whole. We will smoke only one cigarette at a time until we go through the whole pack, but we will never actually admit to smoking the whole pack. That would be unhealthy. Not to mention disgusting!
But our commitment to constitutional principles has weathered every war, and every war has come to an end.I may smoke like a chimney, but I eat healthy. Even when my ciggies get sucked down to the nub, I still look great and my teeth still gleam.
Now, this is not to say that the risks are not real. Any U.S. military action in foreign lands risks creating more enemies and impacts public opinion overseas. Moreover, our laws constrain the power of the President even during wartime, and I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. The very precision of drone strikes and the necessary secrecy often involved in such actions can end up shielding our government from the public scrutiny that a troop deployment invites. It can also lead a President and his team to view drone strikes as a cure-all for terrorism.At some level, I know that smoking causes cancer. I know that my second-hand smoke will cause disease and death. I fully accept that there should be some no-smoking areas scattered at wide distances, that even I should honor. But those secretive hidey holes are so damned tempting.
And for this reason, I’ve insisted on strong oversight of all lethal action. After I took office, my administration began briefing all strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan to the appropriate committees of Congress. Let me repeat that: Not only did Congress authorize the use of force, it is briefed on every strike that America takes. Every strike.If I smoke like a fiend and cough in your face and spread my poison, it's because Congress hasn't outlawed cigarettes. Every time I light up, they know or they ought to know. So it's their fault that I can't quit. They know about every strike. Every lucky strike.
I'll never be impeached or tried for war crimes, because then they'd have to impeach themselves. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and I are all safe. Now hack away hack away hack away all, and to all a good night.