Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has been agonizing over how to feel about the recent revelations of government snooping. Given that he is a Democratic (and Obama) supporter, he has been grasping at arguments that seek to portray it as not as bad as it looks. One of his readers sent in a comment that illustrates precisely how many people decide on what stance to take.
I’ve been thinking something along these lines all along as I’ve watched this story unfold, and wondering if I’ve just lost my sense of what freedom and privacy mean or whether the meaning of these events has been vastly over-hyped. I’m kind of relieved to hear that you’re asking similar questions.
It really doesn’t seem reasonable to me to expect government to be able to protect us from terrorist acts to the degree that we are asking for this, and then expect them not to utilize this kind of data. How the heck are they supposed to accomplish what we’ve asked?
I’m suspicious of myself, because I definitely notice that I feel very differently depending on who is exercising these powers. I didn’t trust Bush at all, so I was much more frightened when he used powers like these. I fundamentally trust Obama, so I’m much more sanguine about his use of such powers, much more confident that he is unlikely to abuse his power for political purposes. So I guess I can’t blame Republicans for having a similar bias in the other direction.
But it seems to me that Obama is continually damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t just about anything…
I hear this kind of thing all the time. The ‘poor Obama, struggling to do the right thing’ sentiment, the desire to have a paternalistic government that will ‘protect us from terrorism’, and deciding on what is good and bad by who is doing it, is why we are doomed to bad government.