Okay, that’s it. Stick a fork in me, I am done. However full of crap Edward Snowden may be, he is quite effectively making a mockery of the Obama presidency, with, it seems, the full compliance of Barack Obama.
I will not side with the Fourth Amendment fundamentalists, but I am now officially done with President Obama. It’s Obama’s job to win me back now.
Of course, judging from the last few days, he’s less than concerned about doing that. Pressuring the Portuguese into harassing the Bolivians on a suspicion that their presidential plane might have Snowden on board is just the icing on the cake. Calling the Europeans hypocrites that probably spy on the US as much as Americans spy on them, with no evidence to back up that startling claim – allowing a ban on The Guardian from being read by people in the Army because a newspaper read around the world may contain “secrets” – no FISA declassifications to demonstrate to people that there is any oversight to NSA activities. These are not the acts of someone trying to promote balance. However much I continue to hope that Obama is serious about that balance, he needs his actions to demonstrate this.
I’ve criticised left-wing opponents of Obama for being purists and for not demonstrating practicality. I will very likely continue such criticism. But Obama’s definitely crossed a line here: not only are these latest defences of indefensible positions not “purist”, they are also demonstrably impractical. The President’s popularity has dropped ten points this week. To this point, I had thought the reason Barack Obama talks back to us lefties is that he is concerned about what will actually work to shepherd the agenda we support through the legislative system. But here, I think he’s just demonstrating a failure of political will, and that failure is likely to undermine all of the good work he has done elsewhere.
I still think there is no Empire here, only a bureaucracy full of stuffed shirts who don’t like their gaffes, mistaken choices and corrupt bargains to be made public. But there is far more to lose here if they are _not_ made public. Every answer of “everybody does it” or “that’s just normal Army/NSA policy” or “we’re still evaluating this” hands Edward Snowden and his enabler, Glenn Greenwald, the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It also creates what in all likelihood will be a context for President Rand Paul in 2016.
Nothing could be more detestable to me than a firebag/teabag win-win. Those wins are losses for me. Until Barack Obama can take this issue seriously, I can no longer take him seriously.