To move on, or not to move on?

A small portrait of the translator

January 13, 2009 @ 19:29 UTC

Written by

Barack Obama
Human Rights, Terrorism and Security, Government & Politics

That’s the question facing Obama when it comes to pursuing the Bush administration for crimes such as torture and wire-tapping. And from the sounds of his interview on ABC yesterday, he’s still unsure (watch the video here).

As the Huffington Post piece notes, however:

“As pointed out by Think Progress, Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s choice to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, has said that the next president should avoid “any temptation to simply move on.” Here is the relevant quote:

‘We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation’s past transgressions and reject Bush’s corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure.’”

Obama’s response to this issue strikes me as his usual pitch-perfect politics. The man is naturally forward-thinking, that rare breed: an optimistic and (yes) hopeful politician. But he also seems to hold certain strong beliefs and values (such as ‘torture is wrong’). So how do you balance those things? How do you look forward - get the country to be excited and optimistic and hopeful with you - while also look backward, at the horrific, dark realities of what has been performed in your name?

And while I understand this pitch-perfect playing - and realise that what Obama is mooting now won’t necessarily reflect his actions in the upcoming weeks and months - I think there’s a lot to be said for being unable to truly move forward without addressing the issues of the past. And I think there’s even more to be said for not letting Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al get away with the crimes they committed. We’ll see.

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