Close Gitmo Now? Even Obama Supporters Wonder Out Loud

With pre-Inaugural frenzy in the air, expectations among ordinarily faithful Obama supporters shows signs of cracks. Among his followers each has an agenda – and each thinks his agenda ought to be on the top of the incoming president-elect’s In box.

We hear special interests voice their demands daily: the homosexual community wants a repeal of ‘don’t ask; don’t tell‘ in the military, greens want a transformed America to suit their desires, labor expects NAFTA to be repealed, illegal immigrants want blanket amnesty, peace activists want the US out of Iraq. Everybody wants something.

The anti-Guantanamo crowd is demanding an immediate closure of the detention facility and rapid resolution of the fates of the men confined there. But by tomorrow afternoon Mr. Obama will “own” Guantanamo, and even his most loyal followers are beginning to realize that ownership means responsibility.

An AP article yesterday from writer William J. Kole titled “As challenges mount, ardor for Obama cools abroad,” points out that global expectations for Obama, which have been set to unrealistically high levels, are already tempered. Among them is the idea that Gitmo can be shuttered overnight.

“Even items on Obama’s agenda that initially seemed straightforward are turning out to be fraught with complications,” Kole wrote, “such as closing Guantanamo in eastern Cuba. Obama has hinted that it may be his first executive order — but experts say it could take a year to accomplish.”

Kole cites Reginald Dale, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, an institution normally firmly in sync with Obama’s agenda: “People everywhere simply expect too much, practically ensuring Obama will disappoint.”

How might they be disappointed in his Guantanamo decision?

Dale is quoted as saying “There are all sorts of logistical questions. What if they suddenly captured Osama bin Laden? Where would they put him? It’s very easy for people abroad to take these issues as symbols of what they think is wrong with America. They need to understand the Americans don’t like these things any more than they do.”

Maybe many Americans don’t like the idea of Guantanamo. Few among us do. But Americans are also fully cognizant of the danger posed by too-rapid decision making that might lead to release or relocation of these terrorists onto US soil. They overwhelmingly would prefer to have them safe and distant in Guantanamo than among the US population in jail or released into society.

In that regard, the American people are much more savvy about their own security than distant critics.

A month or so ago, on a Fox News panel Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke said that he “expects Obama’s honeymoon will last up to two years.” In this environment of over-heated, unrealistic expectations Mr. Obama will be fortunate to make it through February unscathed.

Particularly galling for the Obama team will be that the most virulent criticism is going to emerge from its own base.

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