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Mar 21 2012

ACLU’s Presidential Report Card

The ACLU has put out their presidential report card for all of the major candidates on civil liberties, even including Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer. The two front runners for the Republican nomination, Romney and Santorum, get straight zeroes across the board. Gingrich gets almost all zeroes, rating two our of four on immigration.

But I’m afraid they were a little too optimistic in their consideration of Obama. The organization rated nine areas: voter suppression, racial profiling, humane immigration policy, closing Gitmo and indefinite detention, gays in the military, ending torture, ending the surveillance state, marriage equality and reproductive rights. But they didn’t rate the use of the State Secrets Privilege, which is Obama’s single worst and most dangerous position when it comes to civil liberties. Nor do they rate a range of due process issues like access to DNA evidence and prosecutorial immunity, on which the Obama administration has been staunchly anti-constitution and anti-civil liberties.

Interestingly, Gary Johnson beats or equals Obama in seven of the nine categories (and gets an incomplete on racial profiling because he hasn’t ever dealt with the issue or taken a position). The only category that he loses out to Obama is reproductive rights, where Obama gets a 3 and Johnson a 2. Ron Paul is equal to or better than Obama is six of nine categories (and also gets no score on racial profiling).

The bottom line, as I’ve been saying from the very beginning, is that there is no candidate with any chance of winning the election that is any good when it comes to civil liberties. Obama is good in a few areas and absolutely terrible in many others. And the Republicans are absolutely hopeless.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    .. the Republicans are absolutely hopeless.

    Yet :

    Ron Paul is equal to or better than Obama is six of nine categories (and also gets no score on racial profiling).

    So doesn’t that mean Paul at least is better at least under this system of assessment.

    Not that Paul is going to win mind you.

  2. 2
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Disclaimer NOT a Ron Paul supporter here. No, I don’t think he’s really the better choice for president

    Actually I want Newton Gingrich to win for his bold spacepolicy stance – I want my Moon base durrnit!

    But I think in reality Obama pretty much has his second term gift-wrapped and ready to open with “Mittens” Romney set to join Bob Dole and John Kerry in the “ho-hum gee they were awful, bland, unimpressive nominations as challengers” category. Towhich John McCain also belongs come to think of it.

    With all the people to possibly choose from, *these* are best they can find on both political sides? Yeesh.

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    StevoR,

    Ron Paul is not representative of Republicans on the national stage. So there’s no utility in challenging Ed’s assertion with a sample size of one, especially when his name is Ron Paul. In fact he’s an outlier who was few if any ideological soul-mates in Congress and certainly none who ever had a chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination over at least the couple of decades; probably going all the way back to Barry Goldwater in 1964.

    In addition I’m skeptical any systemic method will accurately capture Ron Paul’s actual positions. The man is very good at disingenuously presenting libertarian positions where if you drill down, you find he promotes the conservative-libertarian form of libertarianism – which is still tyranny, just at the state rather than the federal level.

  4. 4
    NoVaRunner

    I’m amazed he even got one torch for “Closing Guantantamo Bay & Indefinite Detention.” Guantanamo is no nearer being closed today than it was when he took office, and he has made things WORSE on indefinite detention with his signing of the NDAA.

    As far as “ending torture,” I suppose if you added “by Americans” it’s technically accurate. Of course, he’s just outsourced most interrogation to the Egyptians and Pakistanis, who lack our scruples.

    And how does he get three torches on “freedom to marry for gay couples?” How does his position differ from that of Romney and Santorum? All three openly oppose gay marriage. Oh, his position is supposed to be “evolving,” lame politico-speak for “I know my base supports it and I don’t want to piss them off.”

    At least they give him a well-deserved zero on “ending a surveillance state.”

  5. 5
    greg1466

    To be fair, it seems that they are comparing Obama’s actual track record to campaign promises from the rest of the candidates. I’d think Obama would fair better in this comparison if you compared apples to apples.

    I too feel that Obama has been an incredibly large disappointment, but I still think he’s better than even the ones who seem to compare well with his actions. Sure, Johnson, Paul and Roemer say they will end the surveillance state, but then so did Obama.

  6. 6
    Bronze Dog

    I’m still sore about his efforts to defend torturers, myself, which falls under the SSP and general lack of transparency. I’m also cynical about the alleged lack of torture, since I’ve heard about the outsourcing NoVa mentions, though I’m not up to date on details.

  7. 7
    laurentweppe

    But they didn’t rate the use of the State Secrets Privilege, which is Obama’s single worst and most dangerous position when it comes to civil liberties

    Then again, every candidate would get a zero in this area -except Ron Paul, who would probably end up hiring a good private independant business like Stratfor-.

    ***

    The bottom line, as I’ve been saying from the very beginning, is that there is no candidate with any chance of winning the election that is any good when it comes to civil liberties

    You’d almost start thinking that maybe the public opinion does not love civil liberties as much as they should
    [/sarcasm]

  8. 8
    Chris from Europe

    Oh, his position is supposed to be “evolving,” lame politico-speak for “I know my base supports it and I don’t want to piss them off.”

    I would say it’s actually “I don’t want to offend any voters in swing states.” After all, Obama only has lame excuses for his previous support (I think “a clerk did it”).

  9. 9
    omnicrom

    I wish Obama were better, I really really do.

    As for Ron Paul the problem with him is that while he’s correct on a lot of things he’s also racist, sexist, and completely isolationist.

  10. 10
    Chris from Europe

    One shouldn’t forget to mention that Johnson is terrible in respect to taxes and the Fed and social justice. That may not count for civil liberties, but it would certainly make quite a few Americans unable to truly enjoy their liberty.

    Johnson is nearly as bad as Paul on some issues.

  11. 11
    pinkboi

    It’s important to note what @greg1466 said – Obama has been a president and none of the other people have. It’s quite probably that congress prevents Johnson (who has no chance of being president, being 3rd party) from curtailing state abuses of power while allowing any bad points to flourish (as happened with Obama). Still, I think even if you go by stated positions alone, Johnson is still better than Obama on civil liberties. And he and Ron Paul do have non-presidential track records (good and bad) to back it up at least.

  12. 12
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Actually I want Newton Gingrich to win for his bold spacepolicy stance – I want my Moon base durrnit!

    You do realize he won’t actually do anything of the sort if elected, right?

  13. 13
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ Azkyroth : I realise he won’t be elected.

    Which means we’ll never know for sure what Newton Gingrich would or wouldn’t have done if he was elected since he won’t be elected.

    On the positive side Newton Gingrich talks inspirationally about doing what I’ve always wanted to see happen space policy~wise.

    On the negative side – well he’s Newt Gingrich.

    Still Gingrich is perhaps the least worst of the Republican candidates?

    Newt’s certainly helping spoil both Romeny’s and Santorum’s runs so if you like the US Democratic party you should probably thank him for that even if he is motivated by his own egotism.

    Even this far out its pretty clear what’s going to happen and Obama will indeed almost certainly now get a second term. I don’t think he deserves re-electipon but then I don’t think any of the alternatives deserve election either. Except maybe, Newt who won’t be and Huntsman who is already eliminated.

  14. 14
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @3.Michael Heath :

    StevoR,Ron Paul is not representative of Republicans on the national stage.

    True enough which is why he won’t be elected and he is unelectable for the job of POTUS even if he somehow miraculously could win the republican nomination where he stands no chance whatsoever.

    However, he does belong to the Republican party despite being on its eccentric fringes so technically speaking what I noted there was correct. Ed’s OP was too absolute though broadly accurate.

    So there’s no utility in challenging Ed’s assertion with a sample size of one, especially when his name is Ron Paul. In fact he’s an outlier who was few if any ideological soul-mates in Congress and certainly none who ever had a chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination over at least the couple of decades; probably going all the way back to Barry Goldwater in 1964.

    Yes, but I’ll admit I’m a pedant! Ron Paul isn’t representative generally of the Republican party but he is specifically *a* Republican representative albeit an unrepresentative representative and one who outscored Obama so technically they’re NOT all “absolutely hopeless” just *most* of them especially the two most likely challengers.

    In addition I’m skeptical any systemic method will accurately capture Ron Paul’s actual positions. The man is very good at disingenuously presenting libertarian positions where if you drill down, you find he promotes the conservative-libertarian form of libertarianism – which is still tyranny, just at the state rather than the federal level.

    Agreed.

    Having his supporters stomp rival heads – litreally is a good demonstration of that inclination towards tyranny on his part.

    @9. omnicrom :

    I wish Obama were better, I really really do. As for Ron Paul the problem with him is that while he’s correct on a lot of things he’s also racist, sexist, and completely isolationist.

    Yup. That is how I see it too pretty much.

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