I had a brief but absurd exchange with someone on my Facebook friends list on Saturday. His name is Mike Jordan, but I don’t know him; I assumed he was on my friends list because he’s a blog reader. And he quoted George Clooney saying something about how he was disappointed in people who were disappointed in Obama. So I replied to that quote:
I like Clooney but he’s full of shit on this one. Obama hasn’t been a disappointment, he’s been a disaster.
I’ve laid out the reasons for that conclusion over the last three years in great detail and they are pretty much impossible to dispute, especially for someone who considers themselves a liberal Democrat. That led to someone else, someone named George Bingen, to leave two responses in a row:
“Ed, the disaster is the obstructionist Repugnican party that has destroyed our economy and our middle class.” …
“Consider the disaster that the Bush administration was and the pending disaster that the GOP is putting up for their selection of potential Presidential candidates.”
And I replied:
“Of course the GOP is terrible. That doesn’t make Obama any better. I don’t grade on a curve.”
At which point Jordan left this comment on my Facebook page:
“Regarding Obama…On my post you said: “Of course the GOP is terrible. That doesn’t make Obama any better. I don’t grade on a curve.” I now know who I’m dealing with…an Idiot Libertarian. Ed…Just like Ron Paul…Your Pathetic!”
And then deleted it and blocked me from seeing his page or the thread that I had commented on. I think I’ve died and gone to junior high.
But there’s a serious point to all of this beyond the juvenile behavior. These two are hardly alone in blindly following Obama no matter how appalling his behavior. I’ve had many conversations with Obama supporters just like that; you point out how bad Obama has been on a number of issues and they dismiss them by saying that the Republicans are worse. And they’re right. The Republicans are worse. But that does nothing at all to challenge the validity of my argument. It doesn’t even attempt to engage that argument.
They also say things like “you’re just mad because you didn’t get everything you wanted” or “you’re just mad because he didn’t make everything rainbows and lollipops.” That position is, quite frankly, idiotic. I’m not disappointed in Obama because he didn’t achieve everything he said he would achieve; some of those things have been blocked by Congress and that is inevitable when you have divided government. What I’m angry about, as I’ve explained many times, is that Obama has betrayed the most basic principles of fairness, justice and the rule of law — and this is an important component of the problem — on issues where he has full control of the government’s policy.
He didn’t have to assert the broadest imaginable version of the State Secrets Privilege; in fact, he explicitly said he was opposed to doing so even after his DOJ had already done it in multiple cases (and they’ve continued to do it in every single legal challenge to executive branch crimes committed in the name of stopping terrorism). He didn’t have to kill any investigation and prosecution of the war crimes of Bush administration officials, he chose to do so because he made the political calculation that the public wouldn’t like it. He has, like Bush, consistently played political games with the most basic and important constitutional and moral principles.
He has deliberately and actively prevented the enforcement of the Bill of Rights, federal statutory law and our most important treaty obligations when it comes to torture, data mining, warrantless wiretaps and every other aspect of the war on terror. He has deliberately and actively subverted the most basic safeguards against tyranny and destroyed the checks and balances and separation of powers built into our Constitutional structure.
The answer to those undeniable facts cannot be “but Bush did it too.” Because if it’s wrong when Bush did it, it’s wrong when Obama does it. But for many Democrats, especially in the party leadership and among the more partisan-minded rank and file, it was only bad when Bush did it. The moment Obama got into office, all their complaints about the expansion of executive power and the lawlessness of the government’s action fell silent.
Liberal intellectuals, by and large, have avoided this kind of absurd stance. The ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Constitutional Rights and, yes, libertarian groups like Cato and Reason, have remained consistent; they criticized Bush for those things and they’ve continued to criticize Obama for them. That is intellectual consistency and honesty. And it appears to be entirely foreign to Mr. Jordan and Mr. Bingen.