Priorities, Priorities

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 11:26 PM

"And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this," President Obama said last night in his State of the Union Address, "if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

But as Politico's Josh Gerstein points out, that means Obama is elevating the problem of small pieces of pork over the frustration of a policy--closing Guantanamo--that his administration has repeatedly termed a "national security imperative." The President, after all, recently signed a bill with a provision designed to prevent that.

I have, more than once now, suggested that the administration needs to stop talking about closing Guantanamo as a national security imperative if it's not prepared to wield the powers of the presidency to close it. It never occurred to me, until Gerstein pointed out the president's comments last night, that Obama isn't even treating the Gitmo spending restrictions as seriously as he proposes to treat small wastes of federal money.