When President Obama was campaigning and elected, one of the things he frequently talked about was how he was influenced by Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals
, and how President Lincoln brought together may dissenting voices into his cabinet. There were, clearly, political reasons for doing so, but part of the benefit was that it allowed voices of dissent to be heard. However, in practice, it's appearing that President Obama has no real interest in allowing the same thing to occur in his administration, and that's really unfortunate.
On Friday, we wrote about the quite surprising news that State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley had admitted
that he felt Bradley Manning was being mistreated in prison. Crowley specifically called it "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid," despite also saying he believed that Manning clearly belonged in jail, and that the leaks were harmful. When President Obama was asked about this later, he gave a very weak answer
about how he had asked the Defense Department, and they assured him everything was fine:
"I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are."
Of course, that might just raise serious questions about what the DoD thinks is "appropriate" and what those basic standards are.
But, even more troubling is the report that Crowley has resigned
from the State Department, with lots of folks saying this was due to direct pressure from the administration for him to fall on his sword.
Whether or not you believe that Manning's treatment is reasonable, this should trouble you. For a President who claimed he wanted
to hear dissent from the people around him, to then force someone out for offering just that kind of dissent suggests someone focusing on remaining in their own bubble, rather than actually listening to concerns of people.