During the chaotic week of the Boston bomb attacks, Barack Obama finally did something a lot of people had been waiting for: He got angry. In public. In the Rose Garden. It happened after the Senate had shamefully failed to pass a bill, favored by the overwhelming majority of Americans, requiring background checks for gun purchasers. “The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” he said.
To which I say, Bring it on, Mr. President. Obama’s anger served a larger purpose.
A few days ago, Obama restated his desire to remove this stain on the national conscience by shutting Gitmo, declaring the very concept of the prison colony ‘contrary to who we are’.
But the uncomfortable fact is that Bush, the neo-conservative, did more to close the facility than Obama, the liberal, has ever done.
He sent home many more detainees and at least tried to set the cogs of justice turning.
Under this Nobel Peace Prize-winning Commander-in-Chief, however, investment in Guantanamo Bay continues apace, despite the squeeze on national public spending, so that these days there is a depressing sense of permanence about this American corner of Cuba.
It’s Saturday and President Obama is golfing as usual with a few of his regular partners, White House aides Marvin Nicholson, Mike Brush and Joe Paulsen.
It’s already Obama’s eleventh outing this year and the 122nd since Inauguration Day in 2009.
To be fair to Obama (hey, I’ll try anything once), there’s no obvious solution for Guantanamo. Bush freed the easy ones; he deserves credit for doing so. (Come on, libs, try it. Once.) Transferring enemy combatants to the US criminal justice system was a spectacularly idiotic idea, rightly [bleep]-canned. Until their cases can be adjudicated (why they yet haven’t been is a very fair question), the 166 prisoners are probably best off where they are.
So, with respect, Mr. President, stop spouting off about how evil and cruel Guantanamo is. Without a workable alternative, you come across as a child throwing a tantrum.
Which brings us back to President Obama’s anger. There’s a role for anger in politics, but rarely so. People disagree. Disagreements can be, usually are, in good faith. I think, for example, that however many guns and bullets Adam Lanza had that terrible morning in Newtown, CT, there was one gun and one bullet too few at Sandy Hook Elementary. The kind of gun control the president and his supporters want more of left those kids sitting ducks. You may disagree with my solution—trained teachers carrying concealed weapons at schools—but you can’t argue that fact away. Anger is irrelevant. We want the same things: safe schools for our kids. I think proposals to further limit gun ownership will only make people less safe, so I will oppose them. You’re going to get angry over that?
And anger is terrible for one’s golf game.