I pretty much agree with John on most of his last post. All the complaining over healthcare reform’s lackluster finished product from many on the left seemed to miss the larger point: the healthcare law was a huge step forward, even if it wasn’t perfect. And this applies to a lot of the various critiques of the Obama administration. If the Republicans are the party of “No!” then many on the left apparently want to be the party of “Never Enough!”
But…on some issues I think the administration deserves a lot worse than it gets. Obama has been pretty lacking in the hope and change department when it comes to civil liberties, gay rights, and immigration – often inexcusably so.
Obama should have ended DADT the day he took office. The assassination program, however limited it may be, is a horrifying example of executive overreach – and exactly the sort of thing people worried about during the Bush administration – that each subsequent president would take a little more power, a few more liberties, another small step into our privacy, all in the name of security. And security is a will’o’the’wisp. We’ll never achieve a state of perfect security, no matter how many countries we bomb, how many radical clerics we assassinate, how many prisoners of war we torture.
Add to this the fact that deportations of illegal immigrants have increased substantially since Obama took office; that the Obama administration is legally challenging the rulings against DOMA and will likely challenge the recent judgment against DADT; and the various other spying and privacy issues and you begin to paint a pretty disappointing portrait of this administration, legislative accomplishments notwithstanding.
It’s one thing to say, “Look, we’ve achieved a great deal on the legislative front and even if it’s not perfect at least on all these other issues like gay rights and privacy and the war on terror we’re making really good steps in the right direction!” and quite another to tie the pragmatic arguments to these power grabs and civil liberties abuses.
I honestly don’t think the Republican party offers anything but a much worse alternative – but that doesn’t mean people should be particularly happy with this administration, or that we shouldn’t demand more. That a hypothetical Palin presidency would be worse than this one means very little. And times change. The conservative-lib/dem coalition in the UK has from the get-go offered a better track record on reversing civil rights abuses. Whose to say a Cameroonesque takeover of the American right couldn’t produce a much more civil-liberty-friendly alternative to Democratic overreach?