President Richard Nixon was heavily criticized in media and pop culture in the 1970s when news broke that he had a secret enemy’s list. Who was on it? Journalists.. religious leaders.. maybe sometimes even his own staff and people within his own Administration.
Fast forward to the challenging post-9/11 world: President Obama scrapped the enemy’s list and replaced it with a secret “kill list.”
There is a fascinating glimpse from the TIMES on President Obama and how evolution: From the chatter of anti-Patriot Act and anti-war in the Senate, to a hawk in office, a killer of Osama Bin Laden, and the man who approves lethal action and doesn’t look back. The money quote:
In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
Sensing another irony: Those who favored Obama’s 2008 campaign for the presidency because his language put him in stark opposition to eight years of Bush also have a test of their principles and will: Will they vote to reelect a man who campaigned against most things he ended up doing on the terror and homeland security front?
Sure, the political question is fun to ask.
But the more important question may be this: What role should the United States have, should there be a kill list, and should one chief executive single handedly get to decide who goes on that list and who gets rubbed out? Those are big questions. It would be fun to hear Candidate Obama debate President Obama on those points.