Promise Breaker

When I first seriously looked at Barack Obama as a candidate for President, the thing I liked best was that he took civil liberties seriously.  He really got it that freedom is what America is realy, really, all about.  If he became President, our government would take the Constitution seriously again.

Since then, of course, I’ve been quite disappointed in how reality has played out.  At first, it could be chalked up to inexperience and needing to respond to things immediately before Obama’s new policy positions could be fully worked out.  But after a year and a half in the White House, Obama owns whatever it is the government is doing outright, and if anything, it’s worse than it was under Bush because not only has nothing changed, Obama has in some cases literally taken things up to the next level.

Here, I’ll let my man Jon Stewart lay it out for you, using video to compare Candidate Obama to President Obama in the way that only The Daily Show (and its spinoff Colbert Report)* ever seems to actually do:

I’ve said it before — where Bush would have read your e-mail without a search warrant, Obama will just plain f-ing kill you.  That’s rather a more serious civil liberties problem. 

This guy does not take civil liberties seriously.  He talked the talk as a candidate and not only did nothing, but consciously made it worse.  The one thing I really, really was looking forward to in an Obama Administration turns out to to have been a cynical lie.

But on that super-accelerated deficit spending plank of his platform in exchange for little tangible increase in government or medical services, I’ve got to give the guy credit — he followed through on that campaign promise with gusto.

I can’t say I’m surprised.  I am, however, quite disappointed.

*  Once again, I throw my hands up in frustration that it seems to take a comedy show to do what the news ought to be doing.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I will say this regarding national security issues: I wonder how much of those change in tones come from going from reading the "Presidential Candidate Clearance" briefs to reading the "Presidential Clearance" briefs. If I recall within days of becoming president Obama flip flopped on something else regarding terrorists and it really felt like it was probably a case of "ohmigawd, it's ~that~ bad?".But I hate to sound like I'm citing Talk Radio, but I doubt very much that if Bush had put out a hit on a US Citizen living abroad if it would not have been talk of the town for months. Though that I am just now learning is probably a sign of me ignoring the news for a few months myself….

  2. I completely agree – on this topic alone, both Republicans and Democrats now seem to be fully in (tacit) agreement. And the public seems to back them, as well. Obama's betrayal stings, but it was not surprising.Which in turn is a pretty sobering statement about the future of civil liberties in this country. Those of us who point out that this stuff is plainly unconstitutional, let alone unethical, just get ignored. We can and will continue to fight through the courts, but on some level we have to figure out how to sway public opinion.

  3. as an Obama supporter (still and not least of which because he'd have to be pretty bad to prefer McCain), I have to say that I too am disappointed by many civil liberties "reversals". That being said, I do believe that there are definite nuances to the big failings thus far, and he has at least two more years to remedy them.First, for the assassination policy. I do think it's facially pretty egregious, but there is a nuance that makes it more reasonable. One, my reading of the congressional testimony and policy is that it is regarding American citizens out of the country and engaging in hostilities (i.e. terrorism). Presumably, this is a last resort if capture and detention is not possible (i.e. there are no local law enforcement available/willing to capture and extradite the citizen). To me, this is an (unfortunate) natural extension of of the quasi-war that is the GWOT. It's as if an American citizen defected to the German side during WWII and was killed on the battlefield. Clearly (and much to the chagrin of the crazy right) capturing an American terror suspect, Mirandizing him, and interrogating him within the bounds of the constitution rather than simply sending him to Gitmo suggests this reading.As for closing Guantanamo, and potential issues at Bagram, for as much as I'm disappointed, there does seem to be a Congressional block to getting that done. And it's pretty inconsistent to attacking Obama for both overreaching executive authority on one hand and being overly solicitous to constitutional division of power on the other.

  4. Back when he was still on the campaign trail, I had a feeling that he wan't going to uphold the Bill of Rights, starting with the Second Amendment. I thought he was going to try to implement gun control and ban semi-autos, etc. Basically all the stuff that the NRA propaganda was trying to warn us about. Surprisingly, he hasn't touched that yet. He even signed into law a bill that allows citizens to bring a firearm into national parks. Yet he now breaks several electoral promises. I don't know what to think anymore.

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