The non-authoritarians will see multiple sides of an issue because there is nothing stopping them from seeing all sides. The authoritarians will see one side because they cannot bring themselves to break orthodoxy with their side and will not consider any information that conflicts with their beliefs.
Glenn Greenwald wrote that some liberals have been consistently defending Obama's authoritarian actions--his "wretched civil liberties abuses." Greenwald is correct; Obama did do what Greenwald said he did, and those abuses are a danger to us and a violation of liberal principles. Greenwald has documented administrative abuses in exhaustive detail over the last two years, just as he did during the Bush era. Greenwald discussed both what Obama could do and could not do, and criticized him for what he could have done but did not do.
Johnathan Chait, one of the people Greenwald mentions, responded. "[Jonathan] Bernstein Smacks Down Greenwald," he crowed. Bernstein contemptuously stated that the president has no power over senators, that he is no more than a clerk. Bernstein looks at what Obama could not do but ignores what Obama could do but didn't. Chait himself does not refute Greenwald at all.
Forced to state the obvious for people who will not see the obvious, Greenwald related the facts that showed Obama used his power to side with authority and refrained from using his power to support liberal principles.
Chait claimed that Greenwald was saying untrue, mean things about him and again ignored the facts about Obama.
In another post, Chait finally responded to facts by walking back on part of his statements (regarding presidential influence on foreign policy) and reiterating his earlier claims.
Greenwald responded saying that the facts stand for themselves, but added a few new facts that support his earlier statements and conclusively refuted one of Chait's claims. Greenwald, being Greenwald, throws another log on the fire in his update; more facts that support his claims.
Chait doesn't address the evidence in any meaningful way because he can't. To admit the facts is to admit Obama has no respect for the civil rights of others. So he avoids the facts, which is an emotionally difficult thing to do. In fact it is downright painful, and it's no wonder Chait complains that Greenwald is attacking him--he is under attack, by Greenwald's refusal to agree to take part in a massive lie.
Greenwald's posts are long because he supports his facts. He draws logical conclusions from those facts, instead of just saying what he wants to be true and ignoring any evidence to the contrary. There are liberal authoritarians just like there are conservative authoritarians, and they will not admit that Obama is an authoritarian leader because it violates the principles of their tribe.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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Obama supporters: "I WANT to believe"
That's a difficult one to admit, because Obama appears to be very wishy washy on some subjects. Can someone be authoritarian and wishy washy at the same time? It's very strange... I certainly wasn't expecting to see some of the things that we are seeing out of President Obama, especially given many of the things he was saying on the campaign trail.
It's very disappointing. Maybe that's why many people have trouble admitting that the President we elected and believed in isn't turning out to be what we really hoped and expected he would be. I am so very disappointed that our country still participates in holding people who have not been charged with anything and, in fact, there is quite a body of evidence that they aren't guilty of ANYTHING. That is just not something I would have ever expected out of an Obama administration.
Then again, I still prefer a President Obama by miles over a President McCain with VP Caribou Barbie.
I love your blog, Susan, but I think you're misreading Chait and Bernstein. Their posts had nothing to do with Obama's (big) disappointments on civil liberties; instead they took issue with Greenwald's assumption that the presidency is vested with a lot more power than it really is. Obama is constrained to a large degree by Congress, and Greenwald and many liberal critics don't seem to get that. In this, they've bought right into the myth of the imperial presidency that sprang up during the Bush years.
On the other hand, neither of them state, as you wrongly claim, that Obama is a "clerk".
On civil libertarian matters, I find Scott Horton to be much more readable than the prolix and, yes, shrill, Greenwald. (Does Greenwald still toss around "Dear Leader" and "Obama cultist" language?)
Finally, on matters of domestic politics, I'm inclined to trust a polsci expert who can marshall actual research rather than a lawyer who pounds the table.
When the issue is constitutional law, I go with the constitutional lawyer. There are many very important things that Obama said he would not do, even though he could, such as prosecute those who broke the law (torture) and seek further presidential powers. Going only by what Obama could do and should have done, I agree with Greenwald that he did not do what he could have done.
Bernstein quoted someone who said clerk, and agreed with that idea of the presidency.
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