The president is in big trouble. He continues to approach a moment of truth. He had better get control of his presidency or he might see it spin out of control and not recover. The month of August couldn't have gone any worse. Town hall protesters picked apart the bill and citizens made vocal display of their dissatisfaction with the bill. The administration picked a fight with Sarah Palin and suddenly the president was trying to convince the public his bill "won't kill grand ma". He was telling everyone the public option would merely add competition. At the same time, Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner were telling people it would lead to single payer. The administration floated the idea that the bill might not include the public option and liberals immediately said 100 house votes would be lost without it. Then, Senator Conrad proclaimed it won't pass in the Senate if the public option is in the bill. His own popularity as well as the popularity of the bill itself cratered.
The latest Zogby and Rasmussen polls have Obama at his worst approval in the history of his presidency. Zogby is at 42% and Rasmussen is at 45%. Senator Lieberman suggested that Congress pass an incremental bill. Meanwhile, Senators aren't all that clear as to when they want to pass health care reform. Finally, the president, for reasons unknown, picked a fight with cops by injecting himself into the incident in Cambridge. It's safe to say that his presidency is going through serious turmoil.
So, what does President Obama do? Apparently, he's tired of the health care debate and he's opening up a new debate on proper interrogation techniques. Last week, his AG decided to name a special prosecutor to investigate "rogue CIA agents" that acted outside of the parameters their superiors set up. It's important to note that career prosecutors already looked at each and everyone of these cases and made their decisions about four years ago. By doing so, the debate suddenly shifted to one about proper GWOT policy.
Now, if the president thinks that this debate is one he will win, he's in for a rude awakening. The country is not very sympathetic to the "rights of terrorists". They aren't all that concerned that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was made to believe he might drown in order to get him to talk. When given a choice between civil rights for terrorists and security, most people choose security.
Furthermore, only the looney left actually thinks its a good idea to prosecute CIA, or anyone, for the policies enacted by the Bush administration. I don't know the dynamics involved in securing the interview, but it appears that the decision by the AG gave Dick Cheney the room necessary to show up on FNS this past Sunday. He excoriated the administration and questioned their ability to protect the nation.
Yesterday, Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, shot back. He basically said that Cheney is wrong and Cheney has no credibility on the issue.
As such, the debate has officially shifted. Now, the country is going to be debating GWOT policy. If President Obama thinks that this debate will be any more joyous for him, he has another thing coming. The president has a remarkable knack for taking a policy that has enjoyed long term Democratic appeal and made it a Republican issue. That's what he did with healthcare. That's a traditionally Democratic issue, but after his disastrous handling of health care reform, it's now a Republican issue. National security, on the other hand, is traditionally a Republican issue. Trying to convince the country that giving terrorists civil rights is a good idea is a disastrous political strategy.
The president appears determined to engage the country in a series of debates in which the majority disagree with his perspective. I suppose he will want to debate the merits of amnesty for illegals next. After that, he may want to engage in the merits of the fairness doctrine. After that, he should take up the issue of gay marriage. So far, the president's governing skills are nothing short of laughable. It now appears his political instincts are about as good as his governing skills.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"