July 21, 2009
A strange and hopeful pattern has developed in the new administration: Projects are commenced with great fanfare, flourishes, and pompous circumstance. Everything is rush, rush, rush... for a short while.
Then the president appears to lose interest... and another revolutionary policy is put upon the back burner and promptly forgotten, heard no more, as the next --
-- as the next revolutionary policy elbows out the former to strut and fret its hour upon the stage.
The most recent policy to tumble into the realm of forgotten toys is, evidently, closure of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility; at least, that is the inference I draw from the fact that on the same day Barack H. Obama delayed publication of an important economic report until after Congress recesses, he also put off for half a year a task force that is supposed to evaluate interrogation and detention policies at Guantanamo Bay:
President Obama on Monday extended by six months a task force charged with determining how terrorism suspects should be interrogated, held in custody or handed over to other countries, putting in jeopardy his promise to close the military detention facility at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January.
The move came on the same day the president pushed back the release of a congressionally mandated report on the nation's economic conditions, and the White House began to extend a self-imposed deadline for overhauling the nation's health care system.
Just how long is the president's attention span? If we wait long enough, will he just forget all about nationalizing the automakers, the banks, and health care?
I think I just had an epiphany (though I understand those are surgically removable these days): We've noticed that every Obamic policy is a screaming, four-alarm emergency that must be enacted not just now but yesterday, and for God's sake without congressmen wasting time actually reading the bills they vote on. Perhaps the reason is that Obama's aides know full well that if a bill takes longer than two weeks to pass, the POTUS has already lost interest,and is off playing with a newer toy (or perhaps the box in which it was delivered). The previous bill finds itself on the way to dusty death.
I can see where that would create the sense of a "ticking clock" among Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his posse... like trying to hold an important conversation with a six year old child, or Lindsay Lohan: You have only a limited window of communication.
Note, for example, that Obama made the decision on July 20th to push --
-- to push the task force back by six months... meaning it would start (here's where my math degrees come in handy) on January 20th, 2010. Which makes it rather difficult to be ready to set the policies in time to find locations for all the detainees and still shut Gitmo down -- by January 22nd.
But don't worry; long before then, President Obama will probably have forgotten that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility even exists; we can only hope!
And remember how his very first order as president was going to be an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq within six months? The attention-span window on that one didn't even last from November 4th (election) to January 20th (inauguration).
By the time he was sworn in, Obama had also utterly forgotten that just a couple of months earlier, he had savagely attacked George W. Bush for his profligate, unaccountable stimulus package. And Jiminy Cricket, that tax cut for 95% of all Americans occupied the president's consciousness for such a long spell!
Most presidents occasionally have convenient lapses of memory; it's a survival trait. But Obama's interests wax and wane in the blink of a political eye, giving every impression of some functional variant on Attention Deficit Disorder. It just makes him and the country look like flakes.
I reckon that's one definition of "change we can believe in": From now until 2012, if you don't like the weather in D.C., just wait ten minutes.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 21, 2009, at the time of 4:40 AM
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