Friday, November 13, 2009
Politics requires stagecraft, and stagecraft requires a terrorist trial in New York in 2010
Actually, this is a clever maneuver that is unrelated to legal issues. This is a counter-attack against the notion that Barack Obama is soft on terror and a closet sympathizer with Islamists.
If that accusation were to gain traction, it would damage Democrat prospects in the 2010 election.
The court maneuver also may explain the passage of time, with nothing much happening on the 9/11 terrorist front. The Obama administration can now see to it that a hanging judge is appointed (good luck in finding one of those in New York) to preside over the trial of Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed. Once the guilty verdict has been delivered, the administration will demand quick execution.
As all of this plays out, the 2010 election campaign will come and go. The voters will make their judgments. Mission accomplished.
Obama will be seen as a player. If he had simply allowed all of the terrorist trials to advance to military tribunals, Obama would not have been seen as a player. Instead, he would have been seen as a bystander, uninvolved in the judgment and punishment process.
As a player, Obama can at least weaken the soft-on-terrorism vibe. It will not gain traction as a snarling Obama team calls for blood.
In politics, as in theater, timing is everything. The stagecraft here is impressive.
The thing to look for is the end of the trial. August or September would be ideal. Execution of Mohammed on the eve of the election would be too much to expect, but not out of the question.