By Nick Desideri, Columnist
In response to my article about the Republican obsession with Benghazi, an individual – we’ll call this person “Caps Lock” – posted the following note on The Argus office door. Here it is in all of its formatting glory.
“Nick Desideri get a grip this is a HUGE COVERUP of a Total lack of leadership in the White House…..If this had happened under Bush you libs would be SCREAMING FOR IMPEACHMENT……..”
Caps Lock’s letter made me feel like a big boy columnist. Not only does it highlight our electorate’s misunderstanding of the impeachment process, but it also furthers my claim that the overuse of ellipses is a modern American tragedy.
While the George W. Bush shout-out is trite, Caps Lock, albeit in a special way, touched on a quiet thread of hypocrisy in the Obama White House and the Democratic Party.
From 2004 to 2008, the Supreme Court smacked the Bush Administration with a series of unfavorable rulings regarding Guantanamo Bay, the most forceful of which, Boumediene v. Bush, affirmed the constitutional rights of Gitmo prisoners.
Then-candidate Barrack Obama earned accolades from liberals for his stated commitment to close down the military base if elected. In January 2009, a newly elected Obama signed an executive order mandating the closing of Guantanamo for 120 days and an investigation into where these prisoners could be relocated.
According to candidate Obama, Bush-era policies like enhanced interrogation at Guantanamo and unilateral action in Iraq lost America “hearts and minds” around the world.
But President Obama has perpetuated these habits. In January, the State Department quietly closed the office in charge of closing Guantanamo. And in an address to the United Nations General Assembly, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari noted that the over 300 drone strikes in Pakistan during Obama’s first term complicated the fight for “hearts and minds” in the strategically important country.
The lack of liberal outrage over the same unilateral measure roundly criticized during the Bush years is surprising. The economic downturn may have an impact, as Americans worry more about jobs at home than dead civilians abroad. But even that doesn’t explain the total lack of interest outside of a few progressives.
Democrats haven’t spoken up because, for the first time in decades, they aren’t being painted as wimps. In the Bush years, polls showed Americans found Republicans more trustworthy on national security issues. But a November Gallup poll found Democrats and Republicans on equal footing, and a more recent January poll found Democrats leading by four percent.
Beating Republicans on an index they had locked down for decades must feel gratifying. But building national security credentials through the same types of actions Democrats once criticized is a hollow triumph. Not only is it hypocritical, but it cheapens the Democratic worldview.
If human rights and national sovereignty are universal values, why is it a war crime when Bush orders drone strikes but a necessary element of security when Obama does so?
This isn’t a critique of Obama’s drone or Guantanamo policies, and I don’t mean to malign liberals who oppose it. For the sake of the Democratic Party, though, a few more liberals should start speaking up. Obama’s flouted promises might be seen as a necessary evil, the price paid for a gay marriage-supporting, fiscally liberal president who doesn’t make horrific comments about rape.
But ignoring a major ideological inconsistency, not to mention a political one, will not serve the Party well in the long run. Though it sounds like a moral straight out of a “Magic School Bus” episode, the Democratic Party would do well remembering the strength that comes from standing up for its values, even if the protests seem contrarian for the sake of it.
So thank you, Caps Lock. Your faceless letter did have a bit of truth to it, and it made me reflect. Perhaps Obama and the Democratic Party need their own Caps Lock, an individual as thirsty for the truth as my biggest fan.