Saturday, April 24, 2010

Do as we say, not as we do

Another example of the self-induced blindness of nationalism.

As Orwell put it, "Actions are held [by nationalists] to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them."

And I wish I had an equally acute quote on partisanship handy, since a number of folks who were perfectly willing to criticize President Bush for lawlessness in the name of national security now seem content to rationalize President Obama for mostly embracing the same programs.


Anonymous said...

I think this is really disingenuous.

To compare Bush and Obama is ridiculous. Glenn Greenwald (and I'm a huge fan of his) loves to look at things in isolation, but its not as easy as that.

I detest the stuff Obama has done in the national security (sic) field, but, I understand why.

There is a difference between initiating an action, and continuing with it, how much ever Greenwald would like to disagee. The fact is, that Obama has very limited political capital. Political capital is affected by changes you make to the status quo, and not by continuing what already happens. For example, if you take the evil from 0 to 1, that is a much bigger deal than keeping eveil at 10, as far as media coverage goes.

While you may not like this situation (and I hate it) it is the fact.

If Obama had reversed any of the "counter-terrorism" (we all know that these are BS) initiatives then he wouldn't be able to provide health insurance to many millions of Americans, he wouldn't be able to make any progress on financial regulation, or immigration, or climate change.

I think the biggest fallacy Glenn commits is to equate creating a faulty security framework to inflame American feelings, with continuing the existing faulty framework to prevent destroying what little standing you may have (and remember, Bush wasn't being accused of being illegitimate, or a Nazi/Communist). These are not the same things, and equating them is a HUGE mistake.

Unfortunately, Glenn looks at his areas of expertise (fundamental freedoms, law, etc) in isolation, without considering the impact they have in other areas of the country (like healthcare, climate change legislation, immigration, financial regulation). This is a huge flaw in his analysis.

Hume's Ghost said...

I am not ok with civil liberties being collateral damage to a crappy healthcare bill written by industry lobbyists with no public option and the Democrats inability or unwillingness to ever actually take a stand on an issue and not let Republicans define the terms of the debate. When it comes to putting people in prison without charge indefinitely, or assassinating them by fiat, "I don't have enough political capital" is not an acceptable answer.

I think this is a self-defeating, destructive form of politics, for reasons articulated well by Drew Westen in The Political Brain.