It’s true that there are a lot of, shall we say, casually political liberals who decried Bush’s wars and then voted for Obama, but regardless of whether you think Obama’s civil liberties and foreign policy records are as disastrous or wrongheaded as Bush’s, I think the claim that there are a ton of hypocritical progressives defending a Bushian record is overstated. Yes, a lot of quite liberal Californians reelect Dianne Feinstein every six years — but she’s always been awful and they’ve always been doing it. The sad truth is that lots of Americans were and are willing to sacrifice civil liberties for security no matter who’s in charge and lots of people pretty consistently underestimate the negative consequences of war, until they’re unignorable.
But now a survey highlighted bv Salon’s Joan Walsh suggests that, indeed, who’s in charge can matter for public opinion on issues as serious as the president’s kill list:
In a YouGov poll of 1,000 voters last August, [political scientist Michael] Tesler found significantly more support for targeted killing of suspected terrorists among white “racial liberals” (i.e., those liberal on issues of race) and African Americans when they were told that Obama supported such a policy than when they were not told it was the president’s policy. Only 27 percent of white racial liberals in a control group supported the targeted killing policy, but that jumped to 48 percent among such voters who were told Obama had conducted such targeted killings (which Tesler refers to as the “Obama cue.”) He found a similar difference among African Americans, but cautions that the sample size, of 60 in a control group and another 60 who were given the “Obama cue,” is small. “We can be pretty confident that blacks are more supportive when given the Obama cue, but not at all confident about how precisely large that difference is,” he told me via email.
Walsh explains Tesler’s use of the term “racial liberals”:
The white respondents [to a battery of four questions on race issues] who answer more like African Americans – that is, they believe racial inequality is due to structural barriers, not merely a question of individual effort or merit — are considered more “racially liberal.” They’re the ones Tesler has found are more pro-Obama, and pro-Obama policies – included targeted killings.
The rest of the article worth the read here.
Reason on drones.