Dissecting the arguments of liberal apologists for Obama's surveillance and secret war




My explanation is simple; for the unfortunate majority party politics are treated as a team sport and like the song says “Be true to your school, just like you would to your girl” they stick to their team through thick or thin.
There is nuance, in a two party only system you have to cling to the party closest to your goals otherwise you are helping the other side, the enemy.
This is less an indictment to the team boosters in the article who are doing the best they can than it is our ill conceived first-past-the-post electoral system which was pretty good in a 18th century world of kings, colonies, muskets, and sailing ships; but in a nation of 1/3 billion empowers the powerful and silences those without massive power and finance.


I imagine it’s the same cognitive dissidence BoingBoing editors display when they slavishly heap praise and free advertising on scumbag elitist-funded startups like Uber all the time.


Oddly, I didn’t see the word “congress” used once in all of that.

And that’s a clue as to why pieces like this miss the mark - they’re aiming at the wrong target.

Liberals need to get over this idea that the Presidency is where all the action is.


Not in my experience. Liberals I talk with are usually pretty quick to criticize leadership, and not at all comfortable with drone warfare and the like.

I think what you’re seeing is there are different kinds of liberals. Some are, as you describe, party cheerleaders who believe Democrats can do no wrong. Some are corporatist neoliberals who are quite comfortable with invasions of privacy, as long as the right people are in charge. I think both of these groups are small minorities - but the press simply loves them and they are very successful.

But in reality I have seen an awful lot of criticism aimed at the President and his policies - the standing joke is that Obama is a moderate Republican.


It’s always the same song: It’s okay as long as it’s out side doin’ it. Which makes me realize that the trick to actually being the good guy may be to always assume that you are not…


Which is usually better than the other option.

I agree - I don’t think it is so much being true to your “team” so much as being against the other team. Again, from a Liberal view, Obama is quite flawed, but I think we’d take that over what we would have with a Republican president.


Didn’t click through (yet), but my guess would be the same way Conservatives are complaining about Obama shredding the Constitution while they kept quiet when Bush was doing it.


if the alternative were something to brag about you’d have a lot easier time sorting the ‘liberals’ out. liberal may be questionable, but ‘conservative’ is rarely something that a person self identifies as these days, in polite conversation.


i dont think it would be true to state that liberals and conservatives identify tribally to the same degree. questioning a conservative is nearly treason, to a conservative. where is your flag lapel pin!!!?


I am more talking about the good team spirit Roosevelt democrats and Regan Republicans.
First past the pole though means any criticism may sway choices in the next election cycle but can cause a loss in the general election. I will say that anecdotally people who identify as conservative are now mostly evangelical Christians while liberalism is more of a greeny progressive coalition of mostly social issues.


A lot of it has to do with the nature of the criticism. If it’s oriented toward the ultimate goal of disassembling the post-9/11 security state–which is now so big that nobody really knows how big it is, which at its heart assumes that privacy is the root of all evil, which is in part responsible for militarizing police departments and transforming their role in public life to that of an occupying army–then yeah, I’m all for it. If it’s just another club to use against Obama for not hewing to your particular notions of liberal purity, then sorry, no.


Exactly right. While his failure to downsize and dismantle the National Security State, and his administrations’ disastrous policy on reporters and whistleblowers will forever tarnish his legacy, the President will be rightly lauded for successfully undertaking the turnaround from the catastrophe of the Bush years. Liberal purists may fault him, but should also know that the Presidency does not come with a magic wand to cure every ill, and that the behemoth which is the US governmental bureaucracy does not bob and weave easily, especially when the Congress is filled with obstructionist tea party types.


-killing DADT was a freethrow
-Healthcare is a mixed bag
-The economy, more quantitative easing and the time it took to get more heroin flowing in the junkies veins, same but accelerated, questionable
-Iraq war ended, OK
-Afganistan negotiated pullout, OK
-other interventions, more in line with traditional military usage, post 9-11 warfare was once in a generation invasion and warfare
-electronic warfare on Americans and the world, worse
-waterboarding and torture looked to be ended under Bush, hard to say


Yeah, if I was king it would have gone down differently. There would be some bankers and hedge fund managers doing time, there would be a lot of CIA and NSA and subcontractors doing time, and we would have single payer, and free college tuition. But we live in the world that we live in, and as long as there are the Gohmerts and the Ryans and the Bachmanns and the McConnells with their hands on the tiller, and people who inexplicably find them plausible, I know I will be unlikely to get everything that I want when I want it.


I am disappointed in Obama for not being more transparent, and for continuing the Bush administrations policies here, but I can understand why it goes on, even if I don’t approve. There is the obvious political tightrope he has to walk, where even just killing bin Laden brings him heaps of scorn from the right, so if he ends certain programs and a terrorist attack occurs the GOP can point and say “we told you so” and perhaps drum up enough fear to rush back into power. There is a certain irony there too, because conservatives will shake their fists about the dictator Obama spying on conservative citizens, but if he were to end domestic spying they would scream he was giving up the fight against terrorism.

Arguably it’s not Obama personally (though I hoped he was brave enough to suffer politically for the sake of morals) it’s the ridiculous way American politics works. It’s completely irrational and childish, and that has as much to do with the American people and their lazy minds and unwillingness to vote as with craven politicians who will do anything to stay in power.


Well, there are definitely liberals and conservatives who actually hold their opinions because they have thought about them and come to their own conclusions and who are not swayed easily by political parties who tell them to think differently. But there are also certainly liberals and conservatives who are just 100% partisan. I think a very reasonable, evidence-based case could be made that the left-wing has a lower percentage of partisan hacks and a higher percentage of thoughtful people, but the liberal apologist being dissected here is definitely a case of an unthinking partisan.


I think this is not about philosopher king’s dreams, Obama had many wasted opportunities when the Democrats had the house and senate and a nation sick of Bush, he was king for two years.
Obama and Bush are two sides of the same coin held in the pocket of the kingmakers who finance and PR their chosen for primary victories and then on to general elections. Flip the coin and you will get a different set of social issues but they have a mission to ultimately keep their party in power by pandering to the contributors lefty and righty who have captured finance. I don’t really understand why a civil rights attorney would do the things Obama has done, but I think being transported to an ivory tower where your every human interaction is filtered, your every move tied to your party’s reelection. This warps perceived reality and can lead to badly negotiations and decisions.
(edit) At this point Lawrence Lessing’s movement is the only one I think even has a chance of making real change.
Until you can cure the apathy and get people involved from primary races forward campaign finance will continue to easily choose kings.


You might want to ask Brendan Eich about that…


No, he wasn’t.

Dems being Dems, he barely even got the ACA passed. The Dems fought him every step of the way, as they do on everything. The Congressional Dems are a diverse and contentious group, and nobody is their King.