Last night on the Rachel Maddow show, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright rolled out the “Support the President” call for a new administration:
Senator Obama has spoken on all these issues, about closing Guantanamo and about the issue of banning torture and renditions, and I think that it’s very important to move in that direction. What I think is difficult, and I have made this point, I don’t think we should do kind of the “100 Day” thing on the next president, because there’s so much that has to happen. I think it’s going to take more than 100 days or 1000 days to undo some of the issues that have brought us such problems in the last eight years. So what I think is going to be important is to, uh, really support the president.
Expect to hear this line a lot between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Sure, there are things that are really important, like not torturing people and closing Guantanamo. We’ll get to it… eventually. In the meantime, support the president! Otherwise, how will he be able to do those things… eventually?
You may have a feeling of Deja Vu right now. Remember the 2006 election season, back when the Democrats helped pass the Military Commissions Act that enables evidence obtained under torture to be used in kangaroo court proceedings? Even liberals like Sherrod Brown went along with the charade, with the promise that it would all be fixed, and torture would be ended, and Guantanamo closed, and all that jazz if we just voted Democrat and got a Democratic Congress. We got a Democratic Congress, which hasn’t done a single thing to overturn the Military Commissions Act, hasn’t closed Guantanamo, hasn’t stopped torture, and actually confirmed an Attorney General who gave the Bush administration a very public pass on torturing indefinite detainees. Then the 2008 presidential elections came around, and we were told that sure, no candidate is perfect, but if we’d just support Barack Obama regardless of his policy deficiencies, if we’d just wait, then in 2009 we’d get torture made illegal again, we’d get Guantanamo closed, we’d get all that jazz.
I don’t know whether to call this the dropping of the “other shoe,” because there have been shoes dropping on liberal-minded Americans since 2001, so clearly there are more than just two shoes. But now, in a familiar refrain, come the senior Democratic Party figures like Madeline Albright to tell us not to get fidgety about ending torture, ending rendition, closing Guantanamo and all that Jazz. We should sit on our hands and close our mouths except to “support the president.” After all, we’re warned, this won’t be accomplished in 100 days. That would be silly. It won’t even be accomplished, we’re told, in 1000 days!
1000 days divided by 365 days/year is 2.8 years. Yes, we were told last night, maybe if we’re lucky President Barack Obama will get around to ending torture, stopping rendition and closing Guantanamo in the fall of 2011. Hmm. Isn’t that when the primary season for 2012 presidential contenders will be in full swing? Once we’re in a presidential election, we’ll have to be sure to support the president then, too, because we wouldn’t want Sarah Palin in the White House, would we? No! So we’ll just have to be patient.
At that point, our patience will have been extended for ten and a half years. I think ten and a half years is long enough to wait. Actually, I think seven years has already been too long to wait. Come January of 2009, the Democratic Party will have its largest congressional majorities in fifteen years and a Democratic president. There’s no reason the national Democrats cannot stop torture, end rendition and close Guantanamo in the first hundred days. There’s no reason they can’t do it in the first ten.
Come January, it is time to stop waiting.