Obama scores a 13 on the Change-o-Meter.

Obama scores a 13 on the Change-o-Meter.

Obama scores a 13 on the Change-o-Meter.

Keeping score for the Obama administration.
April 13 2009 12:59 PM

No Habeas Corpus for You

The Justice Department takes a surprisingly Bushian stance on detainee challenges in U.S. courts.

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The Obamas have finally chosen their long-promised puppy, Bo, for a score of 100 on the Change-o-Meter.

Just kidding. While the new first puppy received gobs of coverage over the weekend, President Obama continues to push an agenda that includes a restructured student loan system and a surprisingly Bushian stance on detainees. Obama scores a 13 on the Change-o-Meter.

While the Washington Post ran a long account of George W. and Laura Bush's retirement in Texas, the former president was being conjured back in Washington over news that, like Bush, the Obama administration would fight efforts to grant habeas corpus to some prisoners in the war in Afghanistan. The Justice Department filed a motion Friday to pursue an expedited appeal to a judge's decision earlier to hear the cases of three detainees captured in Pakistan and taken to Bagram Air Base, near Kabul. Critics wasted no time contrasting the decision with Obama's rhetoric about restoring the rule of law in the war on terror, and the 'Meter agrees to the tune of negative 20 points.

As part of his education agenda, Obama is taking aim at private student loans backed by the federal government, picking a fight with the industry's bulldogs in Congress. The White House claims the move would save $94 billion over 10 years, which would go directly to Pell Grants for needy students. The 'Meter is already weary over the impending turf battle across Pennsylvania Avenue and tosses Obama 15 of his negative 20 points back for the sensible effort.

The New York Times' Week in Review section yesterday included an overview of the return of civilians—and, the 'Meter would argue, civility—to U.S. foreign policy. Insofar as this is central to the new diplomacy that Obama wouldn't shut up about on the campaign trail, the 'Meter awards 15 points.

And last, even though the daring capture of the hostage captain from pirates in the Indian Ocean doesn't really represent much change, Obama gets a trio of points for a job well-done—one for each shot it took to bring Capt. Richard Phillips home safely.

There's a lot to cover, so we want to hear your thoughts on what the Change-o-Meter should be taking into account. No detail is too small or wonky. E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.