Consistency matters, folks. When George W. Bush was in office, there were near endless complaints from the Left as civil liberties were being diminished and executive power was being strengthened, far beyond what our Founding Fathers had ever intended. The complaints make against Bush were well-founded at the time. However, since Barack Obama has been running the show, we’ve heard nary a peep out of those same people. Apparently, civil liberties are only abused when the president has an “R” next to his name. Or something.
Interestingly, The New York Times recently noted that President Obama was worried that the expansion of executive power undertaken during his first term — including the targeted killing of American citizens — would fall into Republican hands:
Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.
“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.
Mr. Obama himself, in little-noticed remarks, has acknowledged that the legal governance of drone strikes is still a work in progress.
For what it’s worth, the White House is still seeking to put the standards in place, but the Times notes that the “matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6.” I’m shocked — SHOCKED — I tell you!
Unfortunately, the sad state of affairs doesn’t end here. Writing at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney recently went over other troubling aspects of Obama’s presidency, using “Cobbler,” a turkey recently pardoned by Obama per annual tradition, as the setup:
“They say that life is all about second chances,” Obama said as he pardoned Cobbler at Thanksgiving. “And this November, I could not agree more.” Obama was referring to his own second chance — a second term.
But apparently Katie Barribeau didn’t deserve the same second chance Obama and Cobbler both got. A decade ago, Barribeau helped her boyfriend mail Ecstasy into the United States from a military base in Germany. She was 22 years old at the time. The nonprofit journalism group ProPublica reported: “Confronted by military investigators, she immediately confessed and cooperated. In exchange for her assistance, she was sentenced to five years of probation and a $1,000 fine for conspiracy to import ecstasy.”
Barribeau applied for a pardon that would wipe her criminal record clean, enable her to visit Canada for the company where she is a manager, and maybe allow her husband and her to adopt a child. But Obama’s Justice Department recommended against a pardon, and Obama in turn denied the pardon.
This is the norm. Obama has granted pardons and commutations far less frequently than any of his recent predecessors, ProPublica found earlier this month. It seems Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were softies compared with Obama.
Obama also has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president. While he earned praise — and votes — for his election-season policy temporarily halting the deportation of students illegally in the U.S., he has kept the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division busy: Bush doubled Bill Clinton’s deportations from 9,000 a month to 21,000, Obama has now increased that number by 57 percent to 33,000 a month. That’s more than 1,000 immigrants per day.
When his administration isn’t deporting illegal immigrants, it’s zealously enforcing drug laws. Ask Chaddwick McKeen, who operated a medical marijuana business that was legal under California law. Regardless, federal drug cops raided McKeen’s home, and he soon “found himself handcuffed, his belongings seized, and his business shuttered,” as Daily Beast writer Winston Ross put it. Obama’s Justice Department has raided dozens of pot dispensaries operating within the confines of California’s law.
Voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana earlier this month. Other states could follow in the next couple of years. But if Obama’s Drug Enforcement Agency and DOJ continue their enforcement practices, the state referendums could become effectively meaningless.
During a 2012 visit to South America, where it’s easiest to see the drug war’s costs — in lives and dollars — Obama flatly refused to consider decriminalization, which could defuse the violence around illegal smuggling.
But he seems like a nice guy. He connects with young people and all that good stuff. He’s not just an ordinary politican and so much different from Bush, right? Wrong. Obama has taken the worst aspects of Bush’s presidency and doubled down on it. The once sharp cries from the Left are now oddly silent.
Hey, your guy got elected and that’s what matters. After all, Mitt Romney would have been so much worse.