It didn’t occur to me until a few hours after the speech ended, but in last night’s State of the Union, Barack Obama didn’t say the words “Guantanamo Bay” once. The executive order he issued his first week in office to close the illegal facility was an important signal to the country and the world that the Bush era was over. Now, a mere year later, Gitmo went unmentioned in the most important speech of his young presidency.
That sin of omission tells us all we need to know about his priorities and his level of commitment to his pledges. That his administration announced less than a week ago that they would continue to detain 50 prisoners without charges makes the omission all the worse.
One argument we hear a lot from “centrist” Democrats, and from Liberals in general, is that Obama was never the progressive politician that many of his supporters wanted him to be. He, they say, is a pragmatist, more concerned with finding a solution to a problem than redefining the larger debate. If nothing else, his first year in office has proven that he is in fact not a Progressive, and to continue to believe that he is, or that he’ll pursue progressive policies, is insane. So although it’s easy to get wrapped up in the (admittedly) powerful rhetoric, let’s not pretend that a pledge from Obama ensures a delivered policy. Just ask those 50 guys who are still being held at Guantanamo Bay, without charges, waiting for a trial that may never come.