Language always gives us away, George Carlin once observed. And it's blowing the cover from liberals unhinged by former vice president Dick Cheney getting the better of an off-balance President Obama.
Two recent examples -- the first, Rachel Maddow's MSNBC cable show on May 20 with Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff as one of her guests. Isikoff described an "off the record" meeting that day between Obama and his senior officials and representatives of civil liberties and human rights groups --
MADDOW: Let's take a specific example, one of the specific issues, the subject of torture prosecutions, the possibility of maybe a truth commission or a commission of inquiry of some kind onto the issue of torture. Your sources are telling you that the president remained firmly against pursuing any of those things at this meeting today, but is there any sense of what his arguments are to defend that stance or is it still just this generic assertion that we need to move forward and not look back?
ISIKOFF: Well actually it was interesting, when the truth commission came up towards the end of the meeting, the president had a somewhat different explanation for his resistance to that. He talked about all the congressional investigations that were going on, the litigation that was going on and he said it was too distracting to his staff, that too much time was being taken up. He actually looked directly at Attorney General Holder who was present at the meeting and indicating that Holder was having to spend too much time on this issue.
Now some of those present have made the point that that's the reason to have a 9/11-style commission. Instead of having many congressional investigations, have one presidentially-backed commission with subpoena power that can do all this. And the president didn't necessarily reject that but he raised this issue of a distraction, too much time. Then after that, one of those present raised the idea of a criminal prosecution, even one criminal prosecution, as a symbol sort of, a trophy I think the word was used, to show that such conduct would not, for torture, to show that such conduct would not be tolerated again, and the president sort of curtly dismissed the idea, made it clear he had no interest in that.
Ah, a trophy being sought -- as opposed to justice. Why is this not surprising?
One of the most satisfying aspects of the Obama presidency -- agreed, there've been few -- is Obama's penchant for driving his most overwrought disciples around the bend since he morphed from candidate to chief executive.
Befitting a man who must have learned a street lesson or two after 20 years in Chicago politics, Obama appears to sense that prosecution of Bush officials, a truth commission, tribunals, however they are described, are pure poison and could derail his presidency. Hence his aversion, as if from a lingering odor.
If Isikoff's reporting is accurate, the tense meeting marked another example of Obama flip-flopping on possible prosecution for coercive interrogations of al Qaeda (for elaboration, follow this link to a NewsBusters post by P.J. Gladnick).
Example two of rhetoric from the left that comes across as unintentionally revealing -- another Newsweek scribe, columnist Jonathan Alter, appearing at Ed Schultz's radio show May 21 after the Senate voted 90-6 to deny Obama funding to close the prison at Gitmo (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: Where we are right now is that the Democrats shut down the money when it comes to closing down Guantanamo, said we want a plan before we give you the money, the $80 million. Do you think they got it today?
ALTER: No, I don't think that they feel like, you know, they got enough of an answer today to deal with their weak-kneed constituents. And you have, I mean, this is something that's new in American history, of people in the United States being a bunch of pansies when it came to having dangerous criminals imprisoned in their midst.
Alter pulls off something I didn't think possible, sounding like Archie Bunker and Michael Dukakis in the same breath. Imagine the uproar from liberals if Cheney dismissed opponents of Bush defense policy as "pansies."