Americans didn't like it when the Obama administration announced in November it would try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York City. A CNN poll indicated only 34 percent of respondents agreed with the president. Nearly twice as many (64 percent) said KSM should be tried by a military commission.
"Even a majority of Democrats and liberals say he should be tried by military authorities," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Many of the relatively few in New York who support a civilian trial for KSM don't want it held in their city. Their ranks swelled after Police Commissioner Ray Kelly estimated the cost of providing security would run $200 million a year.
This caused Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who initially supported the president's decision, to ask the administration to find some other place to hold the trial.
The administration, in its left-handed way, acknowledged the unpopularity of its decision, first by saying it would consider other sites, and then by saying it was Attorney General Eric Holder alone who had made the decision to try KSM in New York City. The president "is planning to insert himself into the debate" about where he should be tried, The Washington Post reported Feb. 12.
Finding another location won't be easy. One of the planes hijacked on 9/11 crashed in Pennsylvania, but don't think about holding the trial in Pennsylvania, said Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
Zacarias Moussaoui, the "20th hijacker," was tried in Northern Virginia, but don't think about bringing KSM to the Old Dominion, said Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.
In an interview with the Post, Mr. Holder left open the door to trying KSM by a military commission. One thing that seems clear is that he won't be tried in New York City, where the president's allies as well as his political adversaries oppose it.
So it seemed odd when Vice President Joe Biden chose last Sunday to pick a fight with Mayor Bloomberg about the location of the KSM trial.
"The mayor came along and said the cost for providing security to hold this trial is x-hundreds of millions of dollars which I think is much more than would be needed," Mr. Biden said on "Meet the Press."
Mr. Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly have not responded in public to the vice president's charge. But other city officials indicated they are irked.
"No city should have to put up with the burden and risk of a trial so the administration can have a terroristic dog and pony show," said City Councilman Peter Vallone.
Mr. Vallone is a Democrat, as are most residents of America's most populous city. Why gratuitously offend them?
Some think it was just Slow Joe running off at the mouth again, and that if the president hopes to recover in the polls, he would be wise to bind and gag his vice president, and lock him in a closet for the duration of his term.
Others think Mr. Biden was saying what the president really feels.
"It's a sign of just how angry the White House is at having its plans to hold terror trials in New York City thwarted," said WCBS reporter Marcia Kramer.
Two prominent conservatives think the vice president was on a mission of distraction.
William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal thinks Mr. Biden's purpose was to distract attention from the fumbled handling of "Christmas bomber" Umar Abdulmutallab and a forthcoming flip-flop on a civilian trial for KSM.
"If you think his assignment was to use a Sunday show duel (with former Vice President Dick Cheney) to distract attention from the Obama administration's two big backtrackings on terror, you might want to give Joe a little more credit," Mr. McGurn wrote.
The historian Victor Davis Hanson thinks Mr. Obama keeps initiatives that are popular only with the far left such as a civilian trial for KSM in the news to distract their attention from the fact that he's greatly expanded the use of drones to kill terror suspects abroad and has kept in place most of the Bush anti-terror measures he castigated during the campaign.
His policy is "far more cynical than confusing," Mr. Hanson said.
I think Ms. Kramer has it right. The president's petulance at not getting his way overcomes good judgment.