Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Obama held one of his increasingly rare press conferences today.
A SLOWLY UNFOLDING DISASTER: “on Syria, I think it’s important to understand that for several years now what we’ve been seeing is a slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people, and this is not a situation in which we’ve been simply bystanders to what’s been happening.” True: we’ve been supplying one side with exactly enough assistance to keep the situation at a bloody stalemate.
See if you can find the very Washington D.C. word in this sentence: “My policy from the beginning has been President Assad had lost credibility; that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians; and that the only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is going to be for Assad to step down and -- and to move forward on a political transition.” Only politicians would say that a value judgement like “Assad has lost credibility” or a statement of fact like “Assad has killed his own people” is his “policy.”
If Syria used chemical weapons it would be “a game changer” because “when you use these kinds of weapons, you have the potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most inhumane way possible”. Because if the United States stands for one thing above all others, it is killing massive numbers of people in the most humane way possible.
If it’s any help in establishing the official US definition of “humane,” yesterday a Gitmo spokesmodel said, “we will continue to treat each person humanely,” by which he meant forcibly feeding hunger-striking prisoners.
THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT IS KILLING ITS PEOPLE WITH WHAT NOW? “and the proliferation risks are so significant that we don’t want that genie out of the bottle.”
AS OPPOSED TO ALL THE GOVERNMENTS THAT CARE MORE ABOUT THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR PEOPLE THAN ABOUT STAYING IN POWER. THE MANY, MANY GOVERNMENTS THAT CARE MORE ABOUT THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR PEOPLE THAN ABOUT STAYING IN POWER. “But even if chemical weapons were not being used in Syria, we’d still be thinking about tens of thousands of people, innocent civilians, women, children, who’ve been killed by a regime that’s more concerned about staying in power than it is about the well-being of its people.”
IF WE DON’T JOG, THE TERRORISTS WIN: “There are joggers right now, I guarantee you, all throughout Boston and Cambridge and Watertown.”
THEN WHY DID YOU FUCKING AGREE TO IT? “Congress responded to the short-term problems of flight delays by giving us the option of shifting money that’s designed to repair and improve airports over the long term to fix the short-term problem, well, that’s not a solution. So essentially, what we’ve done is we’ve said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we’re going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades.”
On whether he has “juice” in Congress: “But, you know, Jonathan, you seem to suggest that somehow, these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They are elected, members of Congress are elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the American people.” So THAT’s why members of Congress are elected. I’ve been wondering that for years.
WHO SAYS WE DON’T BUILD ANYTHING ANYMORE? “And we’re going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what’s going to be best for the country.” He thinks Republican congresscritters would do what’s going to be best for the country if only they had a permission structure, isn’t that just adorable?
GREAT MOMENTS IN MORAL OUTRAGE: “I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe.” And what is he going to do about it? “I’m going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.”
NOT SUSTAINABLE: “And it’s not sustainable. I mean, the notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no man’s land in perpetuity, even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al-Qaida core, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan – the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried -- that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.” Context is fucking irrelevant to this argument. Guantanamo was wrong and unconstitutional even when we hadn’t “wound down” the war in Iraq, whether or not we are defeating “Al Qaida core.”
That said, while he’s busily re-engaging with Congress, the force-feeding of prisoners will continue: “Well, I don’t -- I don’t want these individuals to die. Obviously, the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can.” Manage the situation, yeah, that’s one term for it. Torture would be another. Violation of human rights would be yet another.
He crows about getting the application form for the medical exchanges from 21 pages down to 3. “We’re using a really tiny font size,” he said.
Asked about Jason Collins, because of course he is, Obama says that even though Collins is gay, he can “bang with Shaq” and “deliver a hard foul.” I’ll bet he can, I’ll bet he can.