It may have been a photo op, another way Obama could show he was not W., the president who started the Iraq war in a haze of fakery and then declined to ever confront the reality of its dead.
Certainly, as Obama tries to figure out how to avoid being a war president when he’s saddled with two wars, he wants as much military cred in the bank as he can get.
But it was also a genuinely poignant moment. It is how we want our presidents to behave, doing the humane thing especially when it’s hard. And Obama, who called it “a sobering reminder” of sacrifices made, signaled to Americans that he will resist blinders as he grapples with the byzantine, seemingly bottomless conflicts he inherited....
President Obama bore witness just as he is deciding whether to accede to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for up to 80,000 more troops in Afghanistan.
He should keep in mind Cyrus Vance’s warning before President Carter decided to send a Delta team to rescue the Iranian hostages (an ill-fated decision that provoked Vance’s resignation as secretary of state). “Generals will rarely tell you they can’t do something,” he said. “This is a complex damn operation, and I haven’t forgotten the old saying from my Pentagon days that in the military, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Barack Obama, the wunderkind who came out of nowhere to win the presidency, was supposed to push America out of the ditch and into a glittering future. But modernity is elusive when you’re in a time machine to the 14th century called Afghanistan. The tableau of Obama at Dover evoked the last line of “The Great Gatsby:” “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
As Obama comforted families at a tragic moment, he also had to contemplate a tragic dimension of his own presidency: It’s nice to talk about change, but you can’t wipe away yesterday.
Obama wants to be the cosmopolitan president of the world, and social engineer at home to improve the lives of Americans.
But what he had in mind for renovating American society hinged on spending a lot of money on energy, education, the environment and health care. Instead, he has been trapped in the money pits of a recession and two wars.
For now, the man who promised revolution will have to settle for managing adversity.
"Obama wants to be the cosmopolitan president of the world, and social engineer at home to improve the lives of Americans."
Obama releases photos from Dover and suppresses photos from Abu Ghraib and Gitmo -- photos by Americans of American war crimes. Obama, "social engineer", has carried on most of what Bush had started in bailing out Wall Street and the American Oligarchs, to whom he clearly feels more allegiance than he does to the American People. He has guaranteed the profits of health insurers. He is reneging on commitments to close off vast tracts of wilderness from logging and roads. Obama has advocated Bush-era violations of the civil and Constitutional rights of Americans.
Obama, "cosmopolitan president of the world", threatened Britons' safety in order to suppress facts about American atrocities. He has defended and extended the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the 'brave' use of pilotless drones. He will not go to Copenhagen and his representatives are likely to be a drag on progress towards solving climate problems. This month we will almost certainly not become the first president to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Before Israel, after some vague promises, Obama has caved repeatedly, condemning Palestinians to some of the worst conditions confronting any people on Earth.
Obama promised a great deal. He has given every indication that those promises were never anything more than words to win votes. This is the explanation that accounts for his wide-ranging, repeated failures to live up to the promises -- not Maureen Dowd's thin apologia that he has to "manage" diversity.