Michael Barone

All of which explodes the meme, propagated by left Democrats and mainstream media, that Guantanamo was some kind of gulag and the treatment of detainees a war crime. Europeans cheered when Obama announced Guantanamo would be closed but have volunteered to take few if any detainees. Chairman David Obey of the House Appropriations Committee won't pony up money to send them elsewhere until the administration announces its plans, while Senate appropriations said it will provide money only if they're not sent to the United States.

Why all these Obama reversals? There is a cynical explanation and a non-cynical explanation. The cynical explanation is that candidate Obama was happy to exploit the issue when he was seeking the votes of the many Democratic primary participants who wanted America to lose in Iraq, but now is backtracking when he is facing a larger constituency most of which wants America to prevail and Americans to be protected. You go where the votes are.

I choose to believe the non-cynical explanation. As commander in chief, Obama looks soldiers and CIA personnel in the eyes and shakes their hands, knowing that some of them might die following his orders. It's a terrible responsibility. Look at how the presidency aged Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- or Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Listen to Roosevelt's D-Day radio broadcast that in its entirety is a prayer (think of the uproar if Bush had done that!), in which his voice is almost cracking. He knew that thousands of Americans following his orders would die, as more did in the next few days than have in six years in Iraq.

I believe Obama is taking this responsibility seriously. And in doing so he has found himself not indicting but validating the decisions his predecessor took, and any conscientious executive would have taken, to protect the nation.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM