27 September 2010

Random musings

Barack Obama and George W. Bush are more alike than even I originally thought. We all know that both Obama and Bush spent wildly, drove up the deficit and assaulted civil liberties. But both actually have substantive policy appeal to the opposing party that their opponents' blind hatred makes it impossible to see. Bush was actually a liberal, big-government interventionist on domestic policy -- something most Democrats ignored because of his military adventurism. Obama is almost a mirror image of Bush on civil liberties and executive power issues. Obama has claimed the right to assassinate U.S. citizens abroad by pure executive fiat, pushed an offensively expansionist view of the state secrets privilege, refused to shut down Gitmo and has actually increased drone attacks in Pakistan. But ask virtually Republican, and they'll tell you Obama is a terrorist sympathizer -- or worse.

This is hardly a novel observation, but I've been chewing on it for awhile -- the inability of the U.N. to do anything meaningful in Sudan demonstrates just how worthless it is. Wasn't the U.N. designed to prevent exactly that?

Several outlets have recently written up on this site's early favorite for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Mitch Daniels. Have a read here and here.

The litmus test for whether you're a thoughtful conservative or a hysterical reactionary is your opinion of this Dinesh D'Souza piece. Our reaction here.

I'm still not sure what to make of the tea party. Is it an amorphous, organic grassroots uprising? Or is it controlled and bankrolled by elites like Dick Armey and Glenn Beck? On the one hand, tea partiers tend to echo my criticisms of Obama's domestic policy. On the other, I haven't heard a single tea partier offer up a serious solution to addressing the country's long-term fiscal problems.

Republicans seem to think that repealing Obamacare and eliminating earmarks will make the deficit go away. Hmmm. Not quite.

On that topic, check out this atrocious demagoguery by John Boehner.

John McCain will coast to a sixth term in the Senate, but at what cost? I'm beginning to change my tune from this earlier piece. The fact that he's out in front on Don't Ask, Don't Tell is just absurd. We expected McCain to track back toward the center once he dispatched JD Hayworth; the fact that he is painting himself up as some sort of anti-immigration, anti-civil liberties crusader is sad. Because that's not the real McCain. At least it didn't used to be.

Daniel Larison thinks Mitt Romney is the 2012 frontrunner. Andrew Sullivan thinks it's Sarah Palin. I think they're both wrong. There is no frontrunner yet.

The greatest threat to liberty in 2010 isn't Obamacare, cap and trade, tax hikes or even al Qaeda. It's the imperial national security state. Conor Friedersdorf agrees. Glenn Greenwald explains (in much greater detail than we did, above) how Obama is simply reprising the Bush policies.

If Obama manages to track toward the center -- e.g., suspending the payroll tax -- and happens to realize how abusive his administration has been of civil liberties, I'd seriously consider voting for him in 2012 over the likes of Palin, Huckabee or Thune. Two thoughts on that. First, I originally wrote "track back," but that would imply Obama has been in the center before. That's obviously not the case, so a moderation of his domestic policy is, let's say, less than likely. Second, what's perhaps most ironic is that it is precisely because of his adopting of the neoconservative dogma on national security and executive privilege matters that I find the entirety of his agenda so repulsive -- and therefore, I don't have the stomach to vote for him.

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