Candidate Barack Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. It is still open. Candidate Barack Obama criticized the troop surge in Iraq. President Obama implemented his own troop surge in Afghanistan. Candidate Barack Obama vowed to end what he criticized as Bush Administration offenses against human rights and civil liberties, including extraordinary rendition and targeted assassinations. President Obama has continued both, and even expanded targeted assassinations to include an American citizen, killed by a drone attack without any attempt at arrest or trial. One can only imagine the outcry if such an action had been ordered by President George W. Bush.
To what may we attribute the apparent change of heart on the part of President Obama. In some cases, no doubt, such as civilian trials for terrorists and the closing of Guantanamo, the President would have gone further were it not for unyielding political opposition, including from his own Democratic Party in Congress. However, at least one seasoned Washington observer, veteran Senatorial staffer Dr. David Luchins, although he claims no specific knowledge of what transpired, attributes President Obama's tranformative thinking to "the talk," the national security briefing he received upon his election to the Presidency, even before he took the oath of office. Suddenly President Obama was burdened with the full and accurate picture of national security threats against the United States and its citizens. Suddently he was forced to come to terms with the most vivid evidence that there really is evil out there--very bad people who want to hurt us very badly.
I hope that Dr. Luchins is correct. I hope that the change in the President's thinking proves that a person may grow in the office of the United States Presidency, and grow very quickly. When President Obama was elected, I somewhat pompously declared myself to be a member of the loyal opposition, ready to criticize the Administration when it veered off course, but always ready to support the President when he did what was right by our country. In that spirit, I write now that while I have many objections to the President's foreign and domestic policies, on some of the most critical issues of national defense and security, I can heartily say, "Well done, Mr. President."