Asked to compare Barack Obama with George W. Bush, Americans are more inclined to say Obama has been a better (43%) rather than a worse (34%) president, with 22% seeing no difference between the two. Obama compares much less favorably to Bill Clinton, with half saying Obama has been worse than Clinton and 12% saying better.
These results are based on a Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll. Obama succeeded Bush as president during a down economy that is still struggling to recover. Thus, a key comparison voters will make is whether Obama is doing better than his predecessor, which would enhance his chances of re-election, or worse than Bush, which makes it less likely Americans would reward him with a second term.
Indeed, those who say Obama has been about the same as Bush generally view Obama negatively, with 27% approving and 62% disapproving of the way Obama is handling his job as president.
Thus, in order to win re-election, Obama likely needs to convince voters he is doing a better job than his predecessor did.
After the debate last night in Florida, unless another candidate enters the field, it looks like Mitt Romney will be the candidate that will limit President Obama to one term and one term only. With economic conditions the way they are nobody will buy the argument that Obama has been doing a better job than Bush.
Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels revealed Tuesday he has consulted with his former boss, former President George W. Bush, about a potential run for the White House in 2012.
Although he wouldn’t divulge details of the discussion, Daniels, who served as Bush’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, said he is aware he owes people an answer about a bid. Daniels has said he would make up his mind at the conclusion of the legislative session in Indiana, which ended Friday.
When asked if he would like to run, Daniels responded “Would I like to? No. What sane person would like to?”
“Believe it or not, I’m not one of those people who’s ever sat around scheming and dreaming,” Daniels said on “Fox and Friends.” “Never entered my mind, but I’ve agreed at the behest of a lot of people to give it some thought.”
The thought is that Mitch Daniels will very likely run – especially since he has been discussing the race with Bush donors for some months now.
President Barack Obama has irked close allies in Congress by declaring he has the right to ignore legislation on constitutional grounds after having criticized George W. Bush for doing the same.
Four senior House Democrats on Tuesday said they were “surprised” and “chagrined” by Obama’s declaration in June that he doesn’t have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In a signing statement accompanying the $106 billion bill, Obama said he wouldn’t allow the legislation to interfere with his authority as president to conduct foreign policy and negotiate with other governments. Earlier in his 6-month-old administration, Obama issued a signing statement regarding provisions in a $410 billion omnibus spending bill.
“During the previous administration, all of us were critical of (Bush’s) assertion that he could pick and choose which aspects of congressional statutes he was required to enforce,” the Democrats wrote in their letter to Obama. “We were therefore chagrined to see you appear to express a similar attitude.”
The letter was signed by Reps. David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, as well as Reps. Nita Lowey and Gregory Meeks, both of New York, who chair subcommittees on those panels.
Obey and Frank in particular are needed by Obama to push through Congress key pieces of his agenda, including health care and financial oversight reform.
The White House said Tuesday the administration plans to implement the provisions of the bill and suggested that Obama’s signing statement was aimed more at defending the president’s executive powers than skirting the law.
“The president has also already made it clear that he will not ignore statutory obligations on the basis of policy disagreements and will reserve signing statements for legislation that raises clearly identified constitutional concerns,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
Bush issued a record number of signing statements while in office as he sparred with Democrats on such big issues as the war in Iraq.
Democrats, including Obama, sharply criticized Bush as overstepping his bounds as president. In March, Obama ordered a review of Bush’s guidelines for implementing legislation.
“There is no doubt that the practice of issuing such statements can be abused,” Obama wrote in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies.
At the same time, however, Obama did not rule out issuing any signing statements, which have been used for centuries. Rather, he ordered his administration to work with Congress to inform lawmakers about concerns over legality before legislation ever reaches his desk. He also pledged to use caution and restraint when writing his own signing statements, and said he would rely on Justice Department guidance when doing so.
Another Obama statement with an expiration date. But, this like the others will come back to haunt him in the coming months. It is one thing to criticize another POL for policy decisions but to turn right around and do the same thing?
Look at Obama’s health care reform and the taxing of health benefits where he criticzed and ran ads attacking John McCain.
President Obamaâ€™s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.
â€œHigh value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaâ€™ida organization that was attacking this country,â€ Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.
Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of interrogation methods that the Obama White House has deemed to be illegal torture. Among other things, the Bush administration memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times.
Admiral Blairâ€™s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
â€œI like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,â€ he wrote, â€œbut I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.â€ (Flap emphasis added)
The Obama grandstanding tour took a domestic turn with his release of four highly classified Justice Department legal opinions about interrogation. The political point of their release was to signal the end of â€œa dark and painful chapter in our history,â€ as President Obama put it â€” See, weâ€™re not like those lawless Bushies.
Thereâ€™s a cost to this preening. Foreign intelligence services will rethink cooperating with us, knowing how bad we are at keeping secrets. Obamaâ€™s relationship with the intelligence community will be strained. And al-Qaeda now knows important details of the CIAâ€™s controversial enhanced-interrogation program and will doubtless move to prepare future operatives to resist these techniques, should we ever feel the need to resort to them again.
The memos tell a different story from the one the Obama administration and the press are pushing. Detailed and carefully reasoned, they make it clear that neither the CIA nor the Justice Department was trying to â€œdefine torture down,â€ but were instead determined to locate and avoid crossing the legal line at which coercive interrogation becomes torture. Congress itself has not drawn this line with great clarity. The memos discuss a number of harsh interrogation methods, but these were carefully circumscribed and monitored so as not to inflict the â€œsevere physical or mental pain or sufferingâ€ that would constitute torture.
The memos confirm that these techniques came out of the U.S. Militaryâ€™s own â€œSurvival Evasion Resistance Escapeâ€ (SERE) training programs. This is important for two reasons. First, it shows that Congress was fully aware that these types of techniques had been used thousands of times in the past â€” on U.S. service members. Second, and more important, the SERE training program produced yearsâ€™ worth of data about how individuals react, physically and mentally, to various interrogation methods. From 1992 to 2001, more than 26,000 were SERE-trained. Of these, only 0.14 percent were removed from the program for psychological reasons.
As the Justice Department acknowledges in its memos, training exercises are obviously not identical to live interrogations. Detainees such as Khalid Sheik Muhammed faced a more intense and extensive application of these methods than any trainee. Nevertheless, so many years of experience certainly permitted the CIA to project the likely impact of the proposed interrogation methods on detainees and to calibrate them to stay within the law. None of this could have been lost on senior members of Congress, in the leadership and on the intelligence committees, who were repeatedly briefed about the enhanced-interrogation program and who encouraged the CIA to make sure they were doing what needed to be done to prevent a reprise of 9/11.
Admiral Dennis Blair, the top intelligence official in the United States, thanks to his nomination by Barack Obama, believes that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss produced “high-value information” and gave the U.S. government a “deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” He included those assessments in a letter distributed inside the intelligence community last Thursday, the same day Obama declassified and released portions of Justice Department memos setting out guidelines for those interrogations.
That letter from Blair served as the basis for a public statement that his office put out that same day. But the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations–in effect, that they worked–were taken out of Blair’s public statement. A spokesman for the DNI told the New York Times that the missing material was cut for reasons of space, though the statement would be posted on DNI’s website, where space doesn’t seem to be an issue.
There’s more. Blair’s public statement differed from his letter to colleagues in another way. The letter included this language: “From 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policymakers and to members of Congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques.” Blair’s public statement made no mention of the permission granted by “members of Congress”–permission that came from members of Obama’s own party.
And then there are the memos themselves. Sections of the memos that describe the techniques have been declassified and released. But other sections of those same memos–the parts that describe, in some detail, the value of the program–have been redacted and remain hidden from public view.
Marc Thiessen, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, had access to the full memos and read them to prepare a speech for Bush in 2006. When Thiessen looked at the redacted version released by the White House last week, he noticed something strange.
At the Central Intelligence Agency, it’s known as “slow rolling.” That’s what agency officers sometimes do on politically sensitive assignments. They go through the motions; they pass cables back and forth; they take other jobs out of the danger zone; they cover their backsides.
Sad to say, it’s slow roll time at Langley after the release of interrogation memos that, in the words of one veteran officer, “hit the agency like a car bomb in the driveway.” President Obama promised CIA officers that they won’t be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders, but the people on the firing line don’t believe him. They think the memos have opened a new season of investigation and retribution.
The lesson for younger officers is obvious: Keep your head down. Duck the assignments that carry political risk. Stay away from a counterterrorism program that has become a career hazard.
Obama tried personally to reassure the CIA work force during a visit to Langley Monday. He said all the right things about the agency’s clandestine role. But it had the look of a campaign event, with employees hooting and hollering and the president reading from his teleprompter with a backdrop of stars that commemorate the CIA’s fallen warriors.
But by Tuesday, Obama was deferring to the attorney general whether to prosecute “those who formulated those legal decisions,” whatever that means.
President Obama on Monday paid his first formal visit to CIA headquarters, in order, as he put it, to “underscore the importance” of the agency and let its staff “know that you’ve got my full support.” Assuming he means it, the President should immediately declassify all memos concerning what intelligence was gleaned, and what plots foiled, by the interrogations of high-level al Qaeda detainees in the wake of September 11.
This suggestion was first made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said he found it “a little bit disturbing” that the Obama Administration had decided to release four Justice Department memos detailing the CIA’s interrogation practices while not giving the full picture of what the interrogations yielded in actionable intelligence. Yes, it really is disturbing, especially given the bogus media narrative that has now developed around those memos.
Thus, contrary to the claim that the memos detail “brutal” techniques used by the CIA in its interrogation of detainees (including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed), what they mainly show is the lengths to which the Justice Department went not to cross the line into torture. “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms,” wrote then Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury on the very first page of his May 10, 2005 memo. Regarding waterboarding, an August 2002 memo from then Assistant Attorney General (now federal Judge) Jay Bybee stresses that the CIA had informed him that “the procedures will be stopped if deemed medically necessary to prevent severe mental or physical harm.”
The memos also give the lie to a leaked 2007 report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based exclusively on the say-so of KSM and other “high-value” detainees, that “an improvised thick collar . . . was placed around their necks and used by their interrogators to slam them against the walls.”
As the Bybee memo notes, the “wall” was a “flexible false wall . . . constructed to create a loud sound”; that “it is the individual’s shoulder blades that hit the wall”; and that the purpose of the collar was “to help prevent whiplash.” If this is torture, the word has lost all meaning.
It is obvious to me that President Obama has acquiesced to the LEFT and thrown them a political bone that will enable a permanent campaign against the Bush Administration for at least his first term of office. Obama ran successfully against Bush in 2008 and why not push the same hot buttons? Torture, War Crimes, etc etc..
I look forward to full and complete Congressional hearings and the ensuing criminal prosecutions of Bush Administration officials.
Oh course, we all know that they will NEVER happen. This is ALL about a permanent campaign to demonize Bush for political advantage and not the pursuit of anything more.