The Bullpen

Obama, drones, and the blissful ignorance of Americans

When it comes to the war on terror, most Americans rather conveniently employ an out-of-sight, out-mind attitude

Matt K. Lewis

A leaked Department of Justice memo outlining the legal rationale for President Obama's aggressive drone policy has sparked a heated debate — much of it centered on President Obama's apparent hypocrisy.

After all, Obama spent much of the 2008 campaign criticizing George W. Bush's policies on Guantanamo Bay and the waterboarding of three terrorists. And now he's okay with killing al-Qaeda-affiliated U.S. citizens without due process?

During one drone strike, a 16-year-old American was killed. You may write this off as collateral damage, but had this happened on George W. Bush's watch, you can bet it would have dominated headlines for days, if not weeks or months. So far, Obama hasn't even had to answer a question about it, and liberals who would have demanded Bush's impeachment have collectively yawned.

Still, in my estimation, President Obama has been consistent in practicing what I call "politically correct warfare" — which is to say that for most Americans, these drone strikes are out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

And here's the ugly truth: Obama is giving us what we want.

We have an unspoken agreement with the president. Obama never promised America he wouldn't kill people more aggressively than his predecessor. But with a wink and a nod, he gave us plausible deniability.

Americans, it turns out, don't really have the stomach for the unseemly business of taking prisoners, extracting information from prisoners, and then (maybe) going through the emotional, time consuming, and costly business of a trial.

American citizens want someone who will make the big, bad world disappear. Problems only exist if we have to confront them. Obama has made warfare more convenient for us — and less emotionally taxing. We should thank him.

This dynamic helps explain why some other liberal policies become popular. Ignorance is bliss. It's why many people believe that adults have more rights than the unborn (after all, we can see them, hear them complain. Likewise, an unborn baby cannot talk. The unborn can't hire a lobby.) The same could be said about spending. The notion of debt surpassing trillions of dollars is so ethereal as to be incomprehensible. See no evil, hear no evil...

And so, we appreciate Obama. With Bush, we had to see pictures of inmates. Yes, it's possible that some of the information extracted might have led us to bin Laden — but it still makes us feel bad. And we had to hear about waterboarding. How barbaric! It is far better to simply cause your enemies to evaporate. It's like pulling a band-aid off all at once. It's so much tidier — so much more sophisticated.

Dead men tell no tales.

More From...

Picture of Matt K. LewisMatt K. Lewis
Read All
What being a father taught me about God
Just as God knows what's best for me, I know what's best for my sons.
Opinion

What being a father taught me about God

U.S. workers' epidemic of demoralization
Matt K. Lewis
The Bullpen

U.S. workers' epidemic of demoralization

The honesty and dignity of Lindsey Graham
The senator will be missed this 2016 race.
Opinion

The honesty and dignity of Lindsey Graham

The political charade of Obama's Keystone rejection
President Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone pipeline in 2012.
Opinion

The political charade of Obama's Keystone rejection

Recommended

Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn)
Punitive politics?

Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee

FBI investigating George Santos' role in dog fundraising scheme
George Santos.
'the big guys finally picked it up'

FBI investigating George Santos' role in dog fundraising scheme

Conservative attorneys general warn Walgreens, CVS against distributing abortion pills
A box of prescription mifepristone for abortions.
Sending A Warning

Conservative attorneys general warn Walgreens, CVS against distributing abortion pills

Thousands mourn as Tyre Nichols is laid to rest in Memphis
Rev. Al Sharpton and Vice President Kamala Harris
Rest in peace

Thousands mourn as Tyre Nichols is laid to rest in Memphis

Most Popular

The Hogwarts Legacy boycott controversy, explained
Hogwarts Legacy logo photo
Briefing

The Hogwarts Legacy boycott controversy, explained

Linda Ronstadt is the Kate Bush of 2023 thanks to The Last of Us
Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in The Last of Us
running up that hill

Linda Ronstadt is the Kate Bush of 2023 thanks to The Last of Us

The Adani Group scandal, explained
Gautam Adani.
Briefing

The Adani Group scandal, explained