Yet his statement, amounting to an admission that the United States may haveNo doubt this will be a mess. When a crime of this magnitude has been committed, no administration that wishes to be taken seriously can simply turn away and pretend they just didn't see. Yet, in trying to read between the lines, it seems this is exactly what Obama would like to do. This is not to be terribly critical of him: the reasons for doing so are obvious and compelling. Our economy is in the tank, sinking with concrete galoshes, and we don't know where the bottom of the tank is yet. The news on the climate change front seems to get scarier every day. Health care is increasingly out of reach of moderately well-off families, and a single emergency could bankrupt even an insured, well-off family. Conflicts major and minor burst in and out of our consciousness like fireflies, reported but never really covered by the TV news.
committed war crimes, opens the door to an unpredictable train of legal and
political consequences. It could potentially require a full-scale legal investigation, complicate prosecutions of individuals suspected of committing terrorism and mire the new administration in just the kind of backward look that Mr. Obama has said he would like to avoid.
In short, Obama has a stove full of scorching kettles, and there's no cool back burner to move any of them to.
Dealing with a war crimes investigation would be the last thing I'd want to deal with, were I in his shoes.
And yet the smooth functioning of this country demands it. One of the core ideals of this country is that no man is above the law; we are all equal before the workings of justice. Our adherence to that ideal has slipped; each of us can recite innumerable anecdotes of this person escaping justice because his wealth and power allowed him to buy out the system. Of that person incarcerated, brutalized, even executed, because of skin color and poverty. And I don't want to minimize those travesties. But here we are talking about the supposed "leader of the free world," a man who refused to hear, let alone consider, criticisms and questions regarding his actions and decisions and those of his subordinates. If he is allowed to amble amiably off into his Texas sunset, we might as well just announce in the headlines of every newspaper, of every evening local newscast, "You live in a police state. Your leaders can do whatever they want, and you are powerless to stop them. Get used to it."
If Obama wants to be taken seriously by the world and the majority of this country, if he wants to maintain the core, the spirit, of what makes this country the magnificent achievement that it is, he really has no choice.