Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama in a Triangle

This evening's Rachel Maddow show opened with this informative discussion of President Obama's meeting earlier today with [unnamed] civil liberties and human rights groups:

I hope these groups expressed their discontent as clearly and forcefully as this report suggests. As to the idea that Obama bristles at the suggestion that his policies are converging on those of his predecessor, well, the best way for him to avoid such comparisons is to advance policies that unambiguously differ from those of his predecessor.

And while the reporter, Mike Isikoff, did not put it quite this plainly, I gather Obama has fallen for the idea that he should be in good standing on the liberal left because of the volume and intensity of criticism he receives from the far right. I dearly hope Obama is smarter than to fall for that fallacy. He should know by now that the far right will excoriate him no matter what he does, no matter what he says, and without concern for internal consistency.

What the far right wants is a different president; what the liberal-left wants -- or should want if it's following its principles -- is a president who will follow the Constitution and restore the rule of law. We thought we voted in such a president last November. That we find him backtracking, temporizing, stammering and sulking in an imagined triangulation is a profound disappointment, and, word-mincing aside, a loud and clear "fuck you" to the hopes his candidacy raised.

Of course, time and deeds will tell. Tomorrow will feature one of those "major addresses" that could say a lot about the course he'll take. Or it could prove to be more pretty words strung together.

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