Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bringing Them Together

Glenn Greenwald summarizes the thing I feared would happen:

After many years of anger and complaint and outrage directed at the Bush administration for its civil liberties assaults and executive power abuses, the last thing most people want to do is conclude that the Obama administration is continuing the core of that extremism. That was why the flurry of executive orders in the first week produced such praise: those who are devoted to civil liberties were, from the start, eager to believe that things would be different, and most want to do everything but conclude that the only improvements that will be made by Obama will be cosmetic ones.

But it's becoming increasingly difficult for honest commentators to do anything else but conclude that. After all, these are the exact policies which, when embraced by Bush, produced such intense protest over the last eight years. Nobody is complaining because the Obama administration is acting too slowly in renouncing these policies. The opposite is true: they are rushing to actively embrace them.

Obama's "enemy combatant" policy: following a familiar pattern

I literally do not know what to do. I explained since early in this Presidential campaign that I thought Obama would be about the last Presidential candidate to roll back the excesses of the Bush years among the Democrats who ran. Even Hillary Clinton gave me more reason to trust her on this issue. Yet here we are.

So, what I'm going to do is this. Every time I write an article about some extraordinary power the Obama Administration has decided is warranted for itself, I'm going to combine images of Obama with something that symbolizes that excess. Today, it's this. This picture symbolizes as well as any the unaccountable nature of the Bush Administration's rendition and torture policies. Both have been embraced, in slightly reworded form, by the Obama Administration.

If he's going to ignore the Constitution that is supposedly a scholarly interest of his, then he will wear the shame that comes with that action. At least, he will wear it around here.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention emptywheel's article at FireDogLake from Friday. In it, she also makes a compelling case that Obama has been trying to appear as though he is opposing the Bush Administration's excesses, while he is actually embracing many of them.

This is the reason I am using these visuals. I want him to be associated with these excesses on the most basic level possible. The visual confluence of these images is the strongest way I can think of to get the message across.

I hope fellow bloggers aren't shy about stealingembracing this idea.

UDPATE 2: Over at FireDogLake, I made this comment on an Oxdown diary that's relevant to all this. In fact, I'd say that anyone who doesn't realize this at this point is going to be no use trying to change the Obama Administration's course on human rights and government power:

Unfortunately, the pattern that’s developing suggests that Obama really doesn’t want to deal with [the Bush Administration's] crimes, because he wants to claim at least some of the extraordinary powers that W claimed for himself. President Obama’s choice to surround himself with people like John Brennan and Greg Craig speaks volumes. These are people who have apologized for, and in Craig’s case supported through his actions, the overreaches of the Bush Administration. It’s extremely difficult to believe that Obama was not aware of their background before he hired them. He is certainly aware of their background now.

We don’t merely need to persuade Obama to do what he knows is right. We need to persuade him that it is right. Failing that, we need to figure out how to persuade him to do it anyway. To say the least, this is a disheartening realization, but it’s true nonetheless.

Obama Outrage: Holder to Pursue Every Legal Avenue to Prosecute Cheney and Bush for Crimes of Torture: Comment #9

Obama isn't doing this because he's backed into a corner. He's certainly not doing it as part of some master plan to discredit such power grabs. He's clearly doing this because he needs to or wants to, and maybe both.


shoephone said...

Juxtaposing Obama with the crimes against humanity as perpetrated by the Bush administration is totally fair, IMO. It will emphasize the excesses of naive worshipping we witnessed by some supporters during the campaign. It will also serve to show the limits and dangers of so-called "post-partisanship".

But while we are cruelly disappointed by Obama's recent demonstrations of business-as-usual where presidential power is concerned, we cannot claim to be surprised. After all, he signalled exactly where he stood on constitutional matters with his legally unjustifiable support of last year's FISA bill.

And now, I'll pour that second glass of wine and toast you a belated birthday, Cujo.

Cujo359 said...

Thank you, dear. Sorry, no wine here, but I do have some grape juice... Hope all is well.

I'm certainly not surprised. In fact, going back over what I wrote about him last year, I'd be having myself checked for signs of senility if I were.

What struck me about both the Greenwald article I quoted and the article emptywheel wrote Friday at FDL is how Obama really is trying to play the old game of pretending to be against something he's really doing. What I'm trying to do is associate him with those acts on such a basic level that this won't work.

Because, quite frankly, I really can't think of any other way of persuading people to get real. I've tried all the others I'm capable of.

Dana Hunter said...

This should help people get very real indeed.

Cujo359 said...

Here's hoping you're right, Dana, because at this point I'm out of ideas...