Let's get this straight: the man who wants to try terrorist masterminds like Khalid Sheik Muhammed in civilian court, only now getting around to writing up the rules that would govern drone strikes.
The New York Times had a front-page story the other day reporting that in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election, President Obama ordered acceleration of the process "to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures."
That was preparation in case Republican Mitt Romney won. He would then inherit a full-blown written policy for targeted killings, as every president hands down written policies to his successor for continuation, alteration or termination.
But here's what that Times story also means that's much more disturbing than a standard political CYA story from anonymous sources:
For nearly four years now the Obama administration has been flying unmanned drones all over the world killing upwards of 3,000 known people with no explicit set of written rules.
Kill that guy. Not this one. That guy too. Vaporize everybody in that house. But this one we'll let stand, for today anyway.
Seriously? A president of the United States, even one from Chicago, running a classified killing campaign with no rules? The United States used to condemn Israel for such targeted assassinations.
As we've said before with respect to Obama's kill list; it's not that he's blood-thirsty or even coldly pragmatic in prosecuting the war on terror. He's lazy. Having to capture and interrogate terror suspects and detain them at places like Gitmo is messy business and unlike just going out and killing these types, there are actual rules you have to follow once the terrorists are in your possession.
The moral calculus here is stunning. Harsh criticism of George W. Bush was levied by Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign regarding the former's interrogation methods yet he is only now getting around to providing a framework on the who, why and whats of his death-from-above drone campaign so he can better avoid the grave moral misgivings of his predecessor.
But the beautiful thing is, he won. Now that he won, what are the odds these "rules for drone attacks" will ever get written if ever finalized? That's not a bet we would take.
A lawless presidency certainly has it's advantages for how can one say any rules were broken when there are no rules.
Perhaps the single best thing about a Republican presidency is that we pay attention to stuff like this.