This from a man who violated the nation’s devotion to liberty by kidnapping suspected terrorists (who often turned out to be innocent bystanders), who made a mockery of human rights by embracing torture methods which are war crimes under treaties we have signed, and whose commitment to the “rational, peaceful resolution of differences” was exemplified by a disastrous war of choice which killed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

The least surprising thing about yesterday’s speeches was the evidence the president provided that he is determined to cling to the center, even as Cheney goes further off a right-wing cliff. The incessant suggestion that Obama was some kind of radical was always the most ridiculous accusation of last year’s presidential campaign. (This is how FCP characterized Obama the week before he was elected: “Like John and Bobby Kennedy, he is a politician and a compromiser, the product of an urban Democratic political machine, a United States Senator who is about as radical as the League of Women voters.”) So there is nothing really surprising about his relentlessly middle-of-the-road approach to most of the crises he has inherited. But he would do well to remember that the most admirable aspect of Dwight David Eisenhower’s presidency was his boundless capacity to reject the advice of his own generals.


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Charles Kaiser is the author of The Gay Metropolis and 1968 in America. He has been media editor for Newsweek, a member of the metro staff of The New York Times, and a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the press and book publishing. To learn more, visit