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Monday, October 26, 2009

The dirty work Obama had to do in his third day at the office

In the days following Obama's inauguration the papers and airwaves were choked with sentimental nonsense about how this untried lawyer from Illinois who had never had to make a decision that might effect anything beyond his own career, was going to deliver us all from evil. I won't embarrass any of the people who went into print at the time with their Pollyanna predictions. I hope they've thought better of it since. This childish optimism is still working its way through the system, as the recent Nobel embarrassment proves. I'm sure Obama wasn't stupid enough to believe any of it. I'm sure he realised, just as Tommy Carcetti in "The Wire" did, that there is no such things as a fresh start in government.

I was thinking of how he must have felt when I read Jane Mayer's piece in The New Yorker about Predator strikes in Afghanistan where prominent Taliban commanders are lined up in the sights of camera mounted on drones flying two miles up in the sky and the President is called into the situation room to give the order to strike. There's a likelihood that they might have the wrong man in the sights. There's a near-certainty that some civilians will be killed at the same time. They may well be children. On his third day in The White House the new President had to OK just such a strike. On his third day.