by Jacob G. Hornberger
According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, Barack Obama has effectively given up hope of generating support from independents for Democratic Party candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections and instead is trying to energize the liberal base that supported him in the 2008 presidential race.
But as the article points out, that liberal base has been deflated by Obama’s first two years in office. “Without offering regrets for policy choices that have angered liberals, Mr. Obama argues that the Republican alternative is far worse.”
Oh? How is that?
Consider foreign policy.
When he assumed office, Obama could have told the American people, “Iraq and Afghanistan were Bush’s wars. Bush had eight years to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish, and he failed. I have a different vision for America. I’m moving our nation in a new direction. I am hereby ordering the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan … and from Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and everywhere else.”
Obama had the opportunity to extricate our nation from the foreign-policy morass in which it is mired. It was an opportunity to dissipate the horrible anger and resentment that the U.S. Empire has engendered among so many around the world — not just Muslims — as a result of the bad things the Empire has done to people all over the world, especially in the Middle East.
Alas, it is now painfully clear to everyone, including liberals, that Obama lacks the necessary leadership, vision, fortitude, and courage to break out of the pro-empire, pro-intervention, pro-militarism box. Instead, he has embraced fully Bush’s statist foreign-policy paradigm, continuing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the killings, the bombings, the abuse, and the assassinations, while fighting fiercely to protect the torturers and the secrecy of their torture operations.
On civil liberties, it’s been no different. Despite campaign promises to the contrary, Obama has surrendered to his generals and kept open their prison camp in Cuba, along with its kangaroo judicial system of tribunals, denial of speedy trial, denial of due process, denial of effective assistance of counsel, denial of protection from cruel and unusual punishments, and denial of protection from illegal searches and forced confessions.
The fact is that when it comes to foreign policy and civil liberties, it is undeniable that Barack Obama has been at least as bad as George W. Bush and arguably much worse. That’s precisely why many Republican Party statists are cheering him. Why would any self-respecting liberal, who traditionally has opposed a pro-militarist foreign policy and traditionally supported civil liberties, be energized by a Democratic version of George W. Bush?
On domestic policy, what has Obama done that is any different from Bush? Aren’t they both Big Spenders? In fact, the entire mid-term debate between Republicans and Democrats is really over which president — Bush or Obama — or which party — Republicans or Democrats — is the Bigger Spender. Obama, like Bush, continues to spend much more than what the government is receiving — to the tune of $1 trillion a year, adding to the $42,000 that each American already owes as his share of the federal government’s debt.
Big deal. Not much to get excited about there.
What about the drug war? Barack Obama, a former drug user himself who never voluntarily turned himself in to seek punishment for his drug use, maintains the same fierce drug-war attitude as Bush and the Republicans. Not even 28,000 recent drug-war deaths in Mexico have caused Obama to ask Congress to legalize drugs. Instead, Obama continues to fight the drug war as fiercely as Bush did, wreaking death, destruction, and havoc without one bit of pain or remorse.
What about the war on immigrants? Obama, a welfare-state liberal who claims to love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, continues the same vicious anti-immigrant policies as Bush and the Republicans. Immigration raids on businesses, round-ups, checkpoints, increases in the Border Patrol, and deportations. No change here except possibly for the worse.
What about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other so-called entitlements and military spending, all of which total about 80 percent of federal spending? Obama’s position is the same as that of the Republicans. Save them, reform them, fix them, notwithstanding decades of failure and despite the fact that national bankruptcy looms on the horizon, just like in Greece. Like Bush and the Republicans, Obama just keeps jabbering about how federal spending needs to be reined in.
Why should liberals be enthusiastic about Barack Obama and Democratic Party candidates for Congress? Obama is nothing more than a warmed over version of George W. Bush, and Democratic Party candidates are no different in principle and philosophy from Republican Party candidates.
What is there for liberals — or anyone else — to get excited about?
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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