What, Eight Years Wasn’t Long Enough?

Okay, the leftmost half of the Democrats, including Obama, Pelosi et al, have continuously claimed for 8 years that detaining illegal combatants at Gitmo was obviously illegal under U.S. law, immoral and counterproductive. Usually, when someone makes such a sweeping claim, it means that they have throughly thought out the problem and have a detailed alternative to offer. Given that Democrats have had 8 years to think about the problem, why didn’t Obama and Congressional Democrats have a plan to handle Gitmo and its detainees ready to implement on Day 1 of his administration?

Why are they still dithering to the point of refusing to allocate funds to close Gitmo? [h/t Instapundit] How dumb are they?

After all, it’s not like they’ve proposed a plan and then the Republicans, using their dominance of the three branches of government, shot it down. No, they haven’t even made a single, concrete, detailed proposal, and the Republicans don’t have the power to stop squat. If Democrats actually had a workable idea, they could have launched it four months ago. 

It’s almost as if they’ve suddenly discovered that the problem of dealing with illegal combatants is a complex problem rife with dangers and tradeoffs that presents no clear, optimal solution. Too bad somebody hasn’t tried to tell them how difficult a legal, practical and moral problem these people pose for us. Oh, wait, somebody did. 

It’s almost as if they always knew that Bush had to make serious tradeoffs but chose to create a simplistic narrative just for the sake of political marketing. It looks like they spent all their time reflexively criticizing Bush and zero time actually thinking about the challenges he faced. 

It’s almost like they never really gave a damn. 

8 thoughts on “What, Eight Years Wasn’t Long Enough?”

  1. Shannon, I don’t think you are old enough to have teen age kids but once you do, you will understand. My 17-year-old marched out of the house one day about two years ago announcing that she had had it with her parents being stingy and rude every time she asked for money ! She was going to get a job and then she would have her own money and she would never have to ask us for anything again !

    That was the last I heard of that.

    Two years later, we are still waiting for that job to take over. At least year one of university is over. Now she can find a job. Maybe.

  2. MK, at least your teenager understood she would have to get a job. That puts her one up on the Democratic Congress.

  3. Michael Kennedy,

    I think I managed to head off that particular problem by telling my kids from an early age that if they wanted more than I gave them they could go out and get a job. We’ve always set the rule that if you want independence of decision making you had to have economic independence as well.

    But yes, the example is apt to the larger point. Most children don’t realize how difficult it is to be an adult. They just see the apparent freedom that adults have compared to children without being able to see that although adults don’t have other people telling them what to do, they do have enormous voluntarily assumed responsibilities that are even more draconian task masters.

    I think that the left’s real problem is that they don’t think there are any really difficult problems. They think solutions are obvious and they have a very weak intuition of tradeoffs. Leftist at any particular juncture in history have always believed that they understood exactly what needed to be done. Instead, they have concentrated their intellectual effort on creating rationales for why the people who are willing to implement the obvious solutions should be put into positions of power. They honestly believe that once that happens the solutions will effortlessly fall into place.

    I don’t think they have actually spent much time carefully weighing the tradeoffs of various alternatives to Gitmo. Instead, they’ve just used Gitmo as a stick to beat their opponents with. Now they’ve suddenly discovered that they need a a detailed real world plan and they’re confused.

  4. If Democrats actually had a workable idea, they could have launched it four months ago.

    The’ve controlled the Congress since November 2006. They could have passed laws to shut down Gitmo, forbid waterboarding, etc., effective January 2007. They could have challenged Bush to sign the new laws or veto them and face the political consequences (which, if they were right about public opinion, should have favored them). Yet they did nothing, and this fact supports your suggestion that they were more interested in partisan gamesmanship than in the welfare of the country.

  5. The weak intuition of tradeoffs is characteristic of youth – the major insight of “coming to consciousness” wasn’t just our awareness that we were lonely individuals with choices, but that each of those choices was likely to block access to another choice. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to accept that. For some on the left it has the rather stupid (and when you are in charge of policies dangerous) belief you can have your cake and eat it, too – or that there is a free lunch. Calling these cliches doesn’t make them untrue.

    Gripes from those who have no responsibility is an old story. That our current crop has long held positions of authority without taking any responsibility indicates a major lack of preparation. (If I had any other reason to vote for Obama, the large number of “present” votes would have been enough. I’ve seen justifications for it, but it generally seems the actions of someone who doesn’t want to leave a paper record.)

    You can’t tax heavily and expect people to work harder to pay more taxes; you probably can’t have the adventures of the open road and provide a secure home for your children. If we aren’t restless with those tradeoffs then we probably aren’t thinking and are less likely to find innovative solutions; of course, if we are restless we are also more unhappy and fight unwinnable fights – indeed, we are likely to not enjoy the moment, sure there is a better one.

    Anyway, trying to make the population dependent and educating them Americam schools encourages dependency, discourages resilience. Gitmo is a problem in itself – but it is symptomatic of the problems of those who demagogue, who don’t take responsibility, who have the limited imagination of those who haven’t had to make hard choices. Of course, it is also symptomatic of certain ways of looking at the American judicial system, the conflict between Americans and the Jihadists, the American military, Bush, etc. . .

  6. People who have spent their careers in “staff” jobs (those that are advisory in nature and have no responsibility for actual decision-making) tend to have a far less-developed sense for tradeoffs than those who have held “oine” jobs (those with actual decision-making responsibility and accountability for same.)

    One worrisome trend that seems to be happening in recent years is for individuals to achieve a fair amount of success and visibility in a succession of staff jobs, and then to be moved into a very big line job–either directly, or with a short tenure in a smaller line job intended mainly for justification purposes–without ever having really developed the skills necessary for such a job. This is closely related to the excessive emphasis on formal education and on credentials.

  7. It would seem like an enhanced tradeoffs education in high school would be a good thing. The best part is that it would not look like it would have any ideological effect. No doubt liberal parents aren’t fond of their teenagers inability to do this sort of tradeoff thinking either.

  8. “I think that the left’s real problem is that they don’t think there are any really difficult problems. They think solutions are obvious and they have a very weak intuition of tradeoffs.”–Shannon Love (3)

    If these indeed are commonly accepted beliefs among leftists then this could explain the Left’s insistence that Bush (along with many others outside the Left) is stupid, unintelligent, malevolent and so on. If one believes solutions are obvious yet Bush isn’t producing quick solutions then one might conclude Bush misses the obvious and is therefore stupid or that Bush avoids the obvious (good, fair, just) solution because he desires bad, unfair, unjust outcomes.

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