Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hail to Their Chief?

So, it seems I'm failing to be a stereotypically humble and starstruck Canadian by not - as the CBC's Don Newman put it on Wednesday - feeling as excited as an expectant child on what he described as being like Xmas Eve, this nite before Barack Obama's maiden visit to a foreign country - mine.

I suppose the fact that I'm not Christian and don't equate the US president with a jolly, old fat guy in a red suit (whom I gave up believing in as well long ago) might be factors in my lack of enthusiasm for this peculiar analogy. Or, more likely, the fact that Obama's doing what amounts to a fly-by (a 5 hour visit which would have saved copious amounts of money spent on excessive security if he'd just decided to stay on the plane and invited Canada's chosen ones to have their hasty audience with him therein) could be another reason for my inability to fawn excessively while, as the typical Canadian that I am supposed to be, saying I'm sorry for whatever perceived slight or embarrassment that may cause him and his entourage.

If I were to be totally honest about what I actually am feeling about this blessing, this honour being bestowed on my oh so inconsequential albeit natural-resource-rich and soldiers-willing-to-die in-Afghanistan-for-the-so-called-GWOT-filled country, I'd have to say that it's pesky things like this that have soured my changeyhopeyness:

WASHINGTON — Even as it pulls back from harsh interrogations and other sharply debated aspects of George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism,” the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor’s approach to fighting Al Qaeda.

In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A.’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.

And earlier this month, after a British court cited pressure by the United States in declining to release information about the alleged torture of a detainee in American custody, the Obama administration issued a statement thanking the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information.”

These and other signs suggest that the administration’s changes may turn out to be less sweeping than many had hoped or feared — prompting growing worry among civil liberties groups and a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies.

So, unless Obama shows up here on Thursday and announces that he's immediately releasing Omar Khadr (WHO WAS A CHILD SOLDIER AND HAS BEEN ROTTING IN GITMO FOR YEARS, MR PRESIDENT) you'll just have to excuse me for not giving a crap about what will surely be a very politically correct and non-threatening to the status quo visit.

That this man - who constantly reminds people that he owes his current status as the first African-American president to people who were much braver than it appears he'll ever be willing to be about human and civil rights - should be greeted as the next great hope for the (rightly crumbling) American empire (and, thusly, Canada and the rest of the world) in a fashion equal to the joy felt by children at Xmas time is utterly inappropriate.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

There will be no cookies and milk left out in my house for him tonite. And, when the morning comes, I certainly won't be chanting that Christ is born! upon news of Obama's arrival.

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