Today's New York Times has a news analysis of Obama's recent national security position reversals, entitled "Obama After Bush: Leading by Second Thought." Understandably, the country and particularly its political intellectuals have been asking why Obama has recently started to change his own policies from ones mirroring his rhetoric during the campaign to ones that sure look a lot more like what former President Bush supported.
In my view, Obama is now facing realities that every new president faces, among them the need for a balance between values and security. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, but it seems that in today's world, as in the past, there are some activities that must be limited in the name of national defense. This may need to include, for the moment, the release of certain photos and information.
President Obama may be shifting his public position; that is to be expected from any president. I imagine that the perspective from the Oval Office is considerably different than the perspective from the campaign trail. I remember, right after the election, watching Obama's first press conference as president-elect. It occurred right after he got his first national security briefing, and whether it was the strain of the campaign or something else, I don't know-- but I have to imagine that hearing classified national security information for the first time would put an increased amount of stress on anyone. Thus, I'm inclined to say to those Democrats who are giving the president a hard time-- give him a break for now. Keep an eye out for real violations of American values (like a renewed use of torture), but President Obama is allowed-- indeed, perhaps even obligated-- to make his policies with an eye to national security.