Imagine, for a moment, that George W. Bush had been president when the Transportation Security Administration decided to let Thanksgiving travelers choose between exposing their nether regions to a body scanner or enduring a private security massage. Democrats would have been outraged at yet another Bush-era assault on civil liberties. Liberal pundits would have outdone one another comparing the T.S.A. to this or that police state. (“In an outrage worthy of Enver Hoxha’s Albania ...”) And Republicans would have leaped to the Bush administration’s defense, while accusing liberals of going soft on terrorism.
While technically not "news" in the sense of being anything that we don't already know, this article does illuminate the awesome power of the partisan mindset. It's pretty plain that many Americans decide what's best by whether there's a D or an R after the person who's presenting an idea.
It used to be somewhat different in that one could say, "Politics stops at the water's edge." Time was that no matter how strongly our politicians might disagree on domestic matters like Social Security and tax rates, they'd stop fighting and work together against our overseas enemies.
That's no longer so: the bitter partisan fighting that characterizes our domestic politics has spilled over into foreign affairs, even when the actual policies are exactly the same.
The New York Times recently pointed out that Mr. Obama's foreign policy is virtually identical to Mr. Bush's, at least where confronting our violent enemies is concerned.
For those with eyes to see, the daylight between the foreign policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been shrinking ever since the current president took the oath of office. But last week made it official: When the story of America’s post-9/11 wars is written, historians will be obliged to assess the two administrations together, and pass judgment on the Bush-Obama era.
The article listed points of similarity:
The Times then pointed out the hypocrisy of our current Democratic leaders:
Imagine the outrage, the protests, the furious op-eds about right-wing tyranny and neoconservative overreach. Imagine all that, and then look at the reality. For most Democrats, what was considered creeping fascism under Bush is just good old-fashioned common sense when the president has a “D” beside his name.
At the time, the Times argued that this means that Democrats are "growing up" and "accepting responsibility." Based on the last few months of warmaking, we beg to differ.
Democrats are no strangers to war, even to unilateral war: President Clinton (D) went to war in Kosovo without seeking congressional permission. He and other top Democrats such as John Kerry and Al Gore were worried enough about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction that they spoke publicly about it before Mr. Bush even entered the White House.
Despite this, they refused to admit that they, too, had believed that Iraq had WMDS. Instead, they stoked cries of "Bush lied, thousands died" and accused him of systematically violating the Constitution when no massive WMD stockpiles were found in Iraq and they were presented with a phony opportunity to make a Republican look bad.
This means, of course, that the Democrats don't actually view military adventures with the alarm they evince when Republicans are engaging in them. Mr. Obama should be taken to task for his apparently open-ended commitments in Libya, but neither the mainstream media nor the Democrats are willing to take him to task.
This is a worrying development, even for the rabidly partisan Times:
The absence of any sustained outcry over the White House’s willingness to assassinate American citizens without trial should be equally disquieting. ...
The most dangerous continuity between the Bush and Obama presidencies, perhaps, is their shared unwillingness to level with the country about what our current foreign policy posture costs, and how it fits into our broader fiscal liabilities.
Mr. Obama's willingness to assassinate American citizens without trial disturbs us, too. We were not at all fond of Mr. Bush's violating the Constitution by summarily locking up any American citizens he felt were a threat, but Mr. Obama's targeted assassinations of American citizens scare us a lot more.
Yet with few exceptions, the usual liberal watchdogs who screamed bloody murder that Bush was committing bloody murder, are whistling past the graveyard now that it's a Democrat doing the exact same thing. Does this mean that we've reverted to our former tradition of cooperation in foreign affairs? Does that mean that the Democrats would support a Republican president who had to take us to war?
We wouldn't bet on it. Given that they can count on the media to take their side no matter how immoral, inconsistent, illogical, or hypocritical it might be, a Democratic administration can do pretty much as they like in foreign affairs without worrying about criticism or oversight. Very few news outlets are pointing out the blinding hypocrisy and complete logical contradiction in the Democrat's claim that it is OK to shoot an unarmed man in the face, but it is not OK to use nonpermanent "enhanced interrogation" to find out where evil bad guys or ticking time bombs are lurking.
As the Times points out, Mr. Obama's foreign policies with respect to the war on terror are essentially identical to Mr.Bush's. Mr. Obama is doing nothing more than extensions of the same acts of war.
There are two possible explanations: 1) Mr. Obama has no ability to think for himself and has to follow what Mr. Bush did because he can't think of anything else; or 2) Mr. Bush was right in saying that these policies had to be enacted because of the world we now live in and no one can do much of anything else.
Item (2) has been obvious for a long time, but it's nice to see the Times finally admitting it. Now if only their liberal readership would do the same!