Although they will try, it will be extremely difficult even for his most devoted loyalists to deny the fundamental cowardice of Barack Obama. Think about how many times this will have happened:Emphasis and links in the original. Of course, there's much more. Read it and weep.
During the primary campaign, Obama unequivocally vowed to filibuster any FISA bill that contained telecom immunity, only to turn around -- once the nomination was secure -- and vote against a Democratic filibuster of such a bill, and then in favor of the underlying bill itself; in other words, he blatantly violated his own unequivocal vow in order to avoid being called Soft on Terror (but did so assuring his believing supporters that, once in office, he'd fix the surveillance excesses he helped enact; don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen). Then, last May, Obama announced that he would comply with two court decisions by releasing photographs of detainee abuses in the Pentagon's custody, only to turn around two weeks later and completely reverse himself after Liz Cheney and friends accused him of Endangering the Troops and Helping Terrorists. If, in the face of "GOP demands" that Mohamed be denied a civilian trial, he again reverses himself -- this time on the highest-profile civil liberties decision of his administration -- he will unmistakably reveal himself, even to his most enamored admirers, as someone so utterly devoid not only of principle but also of resolve: you just blow on him a little and he falls down and shatters into little pieces.
Even just as a political matter, is there any better way to ensure that Americans will view him as weak than by abandoning one key decision after the next as a result of the slightest pressure? What kind of person could possibly admire a "leader" who does this?
UPDATE: Another blogroll writer and civil liberties expert, Scott Horton, concurs:
Rahm Emanuel’s amen chorus at the Washington Post want to present him as a skillful dealmaker who can get things done and who understands the art of compromise. But if his scheme goes into effect [trading military commission for closing Guantanamo with Senator Lindsey Graham], he will do tremendous damage to the administration’s reputation with some of its key constituencies. Will he get anything in exchange? That’s unlikely. Some deal. Some chief of staff.