Recent polls show the country evenly divided on the use of torture. Polls also show the public does not want a congressional investigation of harsh interrogation techniques used on detainees during the Bush administration and show the public is in favor of the Bush policy of keeping the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba open.
Is Obama changing his positions as he better understands the reality of the terrorist threat we face? Is he now seeing information that only President Bush and those in his administration with security clearance had seen? Or is he simply shifting with the winds of public opinion?
If he is just playing politics and responding to polls, the danger is that he could always shift those positions again if public opinion changes. Jim Geraghty, reacting to so many abrupt changes since the election, said President Obama’s policies all come with an expiration date. Maybe the shift on national security and on domestic issues is all about responding to the political climate.
What is really interesting to consider though, is an unintended by-product of the possibility that Obama is doing as Tommy Franks suggested he might and is changing his mind as he better comes to know the military and the facts. As Obama came to side with Dick Cheney last week on the release of those photos, and as he changed other positions to side with Bush policy, one conclusion that could be drawn is that reality was as Bush expressed it.
This might seem a logical and not terribly surprising explanation for most people, but for those who have invested the past eight years into hatred of George W. Bush, it could be too much to take. They might have to accept that their “Bush lied” mantra was a lie.
For those who attributed every ill in the world to Bush, and who interpreted his every motivation as sinister, this is reality altering.
If those on the angry Left can attribute Obama’s changes in policy to responses to shifting public opinion, it will almost certainly be easier for them to take than to have to admit that George Bush had been right on those issues all along.