Friday, May 22, 2009

Why Liberals Love Obama

Even as he betrays them on civil liberties and foreign policy

by Justin Raimondo, May 22, 2009

"If I were a liberal Democrat – and, as my regular readers know, this is very far from being the case – I’d be mad as heck over the way President Barack Obama has reversed himself on key foreign policy and civil liberties issues. I’d be positively furious about his "reconsideration" of preventive detention, the revival of military commissions, rendition, JSOC-style assassinations, denial of habeas corpus, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Not to mention the general direction of his foreign policy, which rationalizes escalating the fighting in Afghanistan – and its extension into Pakistan – under the general exculpatory rubric of fighting the "war on terrorism."

As Glenn Greenwald trenchantly makes the point, what appears to have happened is that:
"Obama’s political skills, combined with his status as a Democrat, is strengthening Bush/Cheney terrorism policies and solidifying them further.....

In short, these are the issues that liberals really, really care about: abortion, gay rights, and economic equality – and they are quite willing to throw overboard whatever remains of their old classical liberal baggage in order to achieve these goals.

So – at last! – we return to the question asked at the beginning of this inordinately long column: why has the liberal-progressive community given Obama a pass on such vital issues as foreign policy and civil liberties?

The answer, given the above, is staring us in the face: because the old liberalism is largely dead. No one remembers Randolph Bourne’s very apt aphorism that "war is the health of the state" – heck, almost no one remembers Bourne, whose contributions to the history of liberal thought are buried in the graveyard of lost causes.

Obama will be given a pass by progressives as long as he holds out the promise of power and the means to reward his followers with perks, prestige, and the novelty of popularity. A few, like Greenwald, resist, but, alas, they are the valiant few – who will soon either desert the ranks of "progressivism" or be expelled."

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