Could Obama's Unlimited Faith in Himself Explain His Sudden Loss of Interest in Protecting Americans' Privacy?

NBCNBCIn anticipation of President Obama's speech tomorrow on the federal government's surveillance programs, a front-page story in today's New York Times considers how his views on the subject have changed since he was elected. While running for the Senate in 2004, Peter Baker notes, Obama condemned the PATRIOT Act for "violating our fundamental notions of privacy," declaring that "we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries." As a senator in 2005, Obama continued to criticize the PATRIOT Act and sponsored a bill aimed at raising the standard for using national security letters to obtain business records. As a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007, he gave a speech promising that in his administration there would be "no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens" and "no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime." After he had secured the Democratic nomination, however, Obama voted for a bill that retroactively validated George W. Bush's illegal wiretapping and gave the same practices statutory cover going forward. And once he took up residence in the White House, all his previous concerns about the threat to privacy posed by the national security state seemed to disappear.

Why? The more charitable explanation suggested by Baker is that Obama suddenly realized that the national security state is all about protecting national security. His first inkling of this came in the form of "a supposed plot by Somali extremists to attack the [inauguration] ceremony." You might think the fact that the plot proved to be bogus would reinforce Obama's avowed skepticism about the powers exercised in the name of fighting terrorism. But evidently he focused instead on the fact that the erroneous warning involved a threat to his own presidential person. He displayed a similar narcissism in response to Edward Snowden's revelations about NSA surveillance. The one thing that really upset Obama, Baker says, was learning that "the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was being tapped." Since she is a fellow head of state, I'm guessing, Obama can empathize with her. The rest of us, not so much.

The less charitable (and more plausible) explanation for Obama's sudden loss of interest in protecting Americans' privacy also fits this portrait of him as a man very much impressed by himself. "He trusts himself to use these powers more than he did the Bush administration," observes Juan C. Zarate, who advised Bush on counterterrorism policy. In case you think that Zarate's evaluation is tainted by partisan considerations, Baker cites Obama's own advisers as reporting that Obama "was surprised at the uproar" provoked by Snowden's revelations. "particularly that so many Americans did not trust him." And here is one of the people Obama chose to serve on the advisory panel he appointed after he realized that people really were upset about what he had described as a "modest encroachment" that "the American people should feel comfortable about":

"The point we made to him was, 'We’re not really concerned about you, Barack, but God forbid some other guy's in the office five years from now and there’s another 9/11,'" said Richard A. Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism adviser who served on the panel. He had to "lay down some roadblocks in addition to what we have now so that once you’re gone it'll be harder" to abuse spying abilities.

In other words, Obama, convinced of his own benevolence and infallibility, has no qualms about wielding these powers. But the thought that a Republican might one day wield them (which evidently had never occurred to him before) does give him pause. (On The Independents recently, a conservative panelist expressed exactly the opposite view: that Bush could be trusted with these powers, but not Obama.) Obama's unlimited faith in himself clearly colors the way he analyzes the questions raised by the NSA's snooping:

Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser working on Friday’s speech, said Mr. Obama saw the issue as two separate questions—abuse of government power and extent of government power.

Many of us who are not the president would suggest that limiting the extent of government power is the most effective way to prevent its abuse, precisely because of its tendency to corrupt those who wield it.

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  • Drake||

    I don't believe that Senator/President weathervane was ever even slightly interested in our privacy.

  • Homple||

    How could he lose something that he never had a trace of?

  • Mainer2||

    If he ever goes looking for his principles, he shouldn't look any further than his own backyard. Because if they aren't there, he never really had them to begin with. Is that right ?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    There's only one reason that Obama doubled down on the policies of George W. Bush: he believed in them.

    In order to secure the Presidency he lied about his true intentions.

    It's really that simple.

  • Rasilio||

    Correction: he lied about them right up until the point where he realized he was going to become President, not specifically in order to become President but because his job as a good little leftist was to reflexively oppose anything The Bush did.

    It also wouldn't surprise me one bit if he wasn't even lying at that point but had simply never really even thought about the issues beyond "Bush is for it so I am against it", then when he noticed that "hey as long as I don't do anything amazingly stupid I'm gonna be President" he actually started thinking about the issue and decided that what Bush was doing sounded fun and he wanted in on that action too.

  • grrizzly||

    ^ This is it.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    "never really even thought about the issues beyond "Bush is for it so I am against it""

    Facile oversimplification. So you're saying he never gave it any thought, just reflexively opposed Bush, yet was able to cogently explain his opposition to it in very real, immediate terms both as a senator and on the campaign trail.

    Then when he got elected, he "actually started thinking about the issue."

    So what explains the cogent opposition to these policies prior to his swearing in? Just random words from someone who had never given the issue much thought?

    There's holes all through this weak argument, and you should give it a second look.

  • Mainer2||

    I would agree that he probably never thought about the issue too deeply (why would a lazy thinker do that if he didn't need to). As for the cogency of his statements, he's go people to write his speeches...doesn't mean they reflect any depth of analysis on his part.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sullum, your alt-text is getting worse all the time.

  • Aresen||

    Yeah. It should be "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

  • Snark Plissken||

    "Disturbs me not your lack of faith" Duh.

  • Jacob Sullum||

    Fixed it!

  • mr simple||

    He is troubled. Perhaps he needs to take a moment.

  • John||

    Obama is a typical gentry Prog. He honestly thinks that he is different than everyone else. He is, like all progs, at heart a crude materialist. This is why Libertarians and Progs talk past each other. Libertarians like all forms of classical liberals are not crude materialists. Libertarians believe in abstract principles like the rule of law or privacy. Progressives, being crude materialists see no value in such things.

    When a prog like Obama looks at the NSA, he sees it in crude material terms only looking at the results. Obama thinks "I would never abuse this and any way I or the people below me used this information it would be for the common good". A classical liberal looks at the same set of facts and sees it in abstract terms and as question of principle. To a classical liberal it doesn't matter what good Obama would do with the information, people have a right to privacy and that shouldn't be violated. To a prog like Obama, that is a silly and incomprehensible point. Obama's response is "but I wouldn't abuse this information and my having it will result in good, so therefore I should have it. Why do you not want to do good?"

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    So presumably Bush wasn't a gentry Prog, and the question becomes: what attracted him to the same set of principles as Obama? Could it rather be that they are both elitist utilitarians with no moral compass whose sole objective is gaining political advantage and wielding political power?

  • John||

    Bush had a different set of principles. His principle was that 911 was Pearl Harbor and the safety of the country required drastic measures. Bush was still a classical liberal I think, but a failed one who overreacted to circumstances. Take away 911 and Bush doesn't do hardly any of the things he did in this area.

    Obama in contrast isn't reacting to circumstances. He just doesn't believe in anything but results. 911 wouldn't have changed his view at all. As long as he is doing it and it results in what he feels are good results, he will do it.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Reasonable.

  • Killaz||

    Bush's measured response to the Chinese seizing our pilots gave me some hope for a brief time. It burned the Kristol wing that we didn't declare war on them.

  • John||

    Bush ran on ending nation building and keeping the US out of entanglements abroad. Ironic isn't it?

    I think he meant what he said when he ran in 2000. It is not like he didn't try to do that when he was first in office. But 911 changed his entire outlook.

  • DWC||

    The notion that Bush ever was anything like a classical liberal is laughable.

  • Paul.||

    So few people remember editorials coming out of Europe when Bush came into office, wringing their hands that "the world needs more America, not less America" because Europe was scared shitless that Bush would have a more humble, pared down foreign policy.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    I just realized I attributed the possession of principles to both Obama and Bush! Make that lack of principles, or similarity in outlook perhaps. But not principles. Seems like the last President with principles was Truman.

  • John||

    I think Obama has principles. I think he is very well meaning. That actually makes him worse however.

  • JWatts||

    I agree with John here. Claiming that neither Obama nor Bush has principles is exactly the kind of idiocy the Left engages in when they proclaim the Right is Racist and Evil.

    It's just a brain dead reflexive attack at someone you don't like.

    Both Obama and Bush have principles.

    Bush clearly changed his priorities in office, it was, as has been pointed out, a case of fairly dramatic events. I don't see that Bush's principles changed much.

  • JWatts||

    To follow up, in Obama's case, again he has principles. They are just more along the lines of Tony's situational ethics.

    I.E.
    a) Obama's primary principle is enhancing his own reputation, both now and for history. If anybody threatens his reputation he has his attack dogs go after them as Racists or Ideologues, etc.

    b) Obama pushes items that advance a Liberal agenda as long as they don't interfere with item a.

    c) Obama likes to give speeches for adoring fans and hates to be asked anything other than puffball questions. This is primarily how he implements item b.

    d) Obama doesn't like to spend time with legislators or crafting policy. He wants a subordinate to come up with policy quickly, pass it to Congress, and let somebody else do the hard work of passing a law. His follow up is generally item c.

    e) Obama likes to play golf, basketball, take vacations and hobnob with the rich and famous at fund raisers.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Let's be clear: Both Bush and Obama had one overriding principle, if you can even call it that, and that is simply the desire to acquire and wield power. Period. Anything else is window dressing designed to muddle up the issue and to feed these Right/Left team playing diatribes like the one you provided above.

  • JWatts||

    Meh, I don't agree with your simplistic statement. You've failed to provide any evidence to support your statement that Bush and Obama "desire to acquire and wield power. Period.".

    In Bush's case, he's stepped away from the Presidency, kept his face out of the lime light and generally tried to follow the Washington model for former Presidents. That's not the behavior you would expect from someone who is eaten up with a desire for power.

    And frankly, I don't think that ending a sentence with "Period." is going to convince anyone that you are correct.

  • Aresen||

    Do you mean when Truman attempted to seize the steel mills?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Fuck sorry I mean Eisenhower. You're right, Truman was a dick.

  • John||

    Or, Bush really was just a prog with different priorities. I can't read his mind, so I don't know. Which account you believe depends on your view of Bush.

  • Zeb||

    So presumably Bush wasn't a gentry Prog

    Why would you presume that? I can't read minds, but based on actions, I'd say he was just a lightly different kind of progressive.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    If progressive means sacrificing principles for progress of any sort, then you have a valid point. I call that just a garden-variety lack of principles.

  • John||

    It is a lack of principles. But it is deeper than that. It is not believing in princples at all. To a prog, because they are the retarded grandchildren of Marxists, the only thing that matters is the results in the material world.

    This is why something like affirmative action doesn't bother them and drives libertarians and conservatives nuts. Libertarians and conservatives see the principles of fairness and equal protection being violated. Progs say that if following these principles results in real world harm, they should not be followed and think that the only reason anyone would want to believe in such things is because they hate black people.

    When you think of them as crude materialists and see things from that perspective, you start to understand why they believe the nasty things they do.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Again this all goes back to the desire to acquire and wield power, but I think we're pretty much saying the same thing.

  • Tony||

    I don't think any of that is relevant. Both a pragmatist and a believer in mystical woo (sorry, "classical liberal") can appreciate that there's always a chance the next guy could abuse powers that you are choosing not to.

    The NYT story explains the problem clearly: once you're president, you wake up every morning to potential threats, so any president is going to probably be biased in favor of security measures over a privacy advocate on the outside, even if that president used to be such an advocate.

    That's an understandable institutional problem and it should be dealt with at face-value. I don't think differing philosophical approaches have anything to do with it.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Both a pragmatist and a believer in mystical woo (sorry, "classical liberal") can appreciate that there's always a chance the next guy could abuse powers that you are choosing not to.

    Which is exactly why we believe that these power should be taken from politicians. You really don't read anything anyone says here, do you?

    The NYT story explains the problem clearly: once you're president, you wake up every morning to potential threats, so any president is going to probably be biased in favor of security measures over a privacy advocate on the outside, even if that president used to be such an advocate.

    I don't care if they wake up feeling that way, their want to *feel* more safe is not a reason to destroy my rights. The End. This goes back to point 1 above. They should not have this power to begin with. They can be afraid all they want and they can hire all the secret service they want, but they cannot limit my rights and liberty so they can feel better at night. Don't like it? Don't take the fucking job.

  • Tony||

    Well, the job description includes commanding the world's biggest armed force and overseeing other national-security-related agencies. No doubt about it, we opened a can of worms after 9/11. It's always difficult to rebalance in favor of liberty. The only real way to do it is for the people to give enough of a shit to influence Congress's behavior.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    The job description also requires an oath to follow the constitution.

    It's always difficult to rebalance in favor of liberty. The only real way to do it is for the people to give enough of a shit to influence Congress's behavior.

    I guess that is why Obama keeps re-signing the Patriot Act and the NDAA... Because it is *difficult* to rebalance in favor of liberty, huh? We should be electing libertarians into congress than, if our goal is to move towards more liberty. Wouldn't you agree, Tony?

  • Marianna||

    While we're waiting breathlessly for Tony's response, Tom Jefferson has a few thoughts:

    "In questions of power, let no more be heard of a confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution."

  • Seamus||

    Tony's mother called him away from the computer and told him to finish cleaning up his room. He's going to be a while.

  • Tony||

    No, so long as our goal is also preserving the national economy or any semblance of being a decent place to live.

  • Jordan||

    so any president is going to probably be biased in favor of security measures over a privacy advocate on the outside, even if that president used to be such an advocate.

    No. Any utilitarian president might be.

    I don't think differing philosophical approaches have anything to do with it.

    What part of "To a classical liberal it doesn't matter what good Obama would do with the information, people have a right to privacy and that shouldn't be violated" do you not understand?

  • Tony||

    The part where "classical liberals" somehow have magical access to knowledge of the exact correct point on the security-liberty spectrum. And the part where having a certain philosophical outlook makes one have a stronger will in the face of threats.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    That point is: don't infringe my rights. Not too hard to find on the spectrum, Tony.

  • Tony||

    Are you referring to your right to security or your right to privacy?

  • Jordan||

    There is no right to security.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    There is no right to security.

    You are trying to explain partial differential equations to a goldfish.

  • Jordan||

    You are trying to explain partial differential equations to a goldfish.

    Niiiiiice.

  • Tony||

    Ah. Then I'll be taking that lovely property off your hands now.

  • Jordan||

    Right to property != right to security.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    My right to security? As in my right to bear arms?

    Well, then I am referring to both. Thanks for pointing that out, Tony.

  • Jordan||

    That is not what you were arguing:

    once you're president, you wake up every morning to potential threats, so any president is going to probably be biased in favor of security measures over a privacy advocate on the outside
  • waffles||

    Why are there so many articles about what's going on inside Obama's head? Did this happen for any other president?

    Isn't it better to discuss actual actions and decisions rather than this weird mindreading stuff?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Because he carries the collective weight of the World on his shoulders. If the NYT could just convey to you what a burden that was, you wouldn't be such a racist.

  • Seamus||

    And if he wasn't such a racist, the NYT would be able to convey to him what a burden that is.

  • Aresen||

    It's nothing new, I've seen it with every President since LBJ.

  • Zeb||

    Seriously. I don't give a fuck what his internal dialog is like. It's his actions that count and many of his actions seem to have nothing to do with any principles or intentions he has expressed. Intentions count for shit when you have the power the president does.

  • Sudden||

    Because the lefties think he's the only president in the last century to have really deep and brooding and weighty thoughts in his head. The rest were all dunces (read: republicans) or charasmatic pragmatists (read: democrats).

  • Enough About Palin||

    Why are there so many articles about what's going on inside Obama's head? Did this happen for any other president?

    Isn't it better to discuss actual actions and decisions rather than this weird mindreading stuff?

    It's not what I do... but who I am underneath... that defines me

    /progtards

  • Aresen||

    Even given the (ridiculous) self-conceit that HE can be trusted with powers that he would not entrust to others, the irony of his thinking that he can put in safeguards that his successor can't remove totally eludes him.

  • Loki||

    the irony of his thinking that he can put in safeguards that his successor can't remove totally eludes him

    The ratchet of government power in general and executive authority in particular only ever seems to go in one direction. I can't think of any examples of any government actually volunatarily giving up some power.

  • Redmanfms||

    The ratchet of government power in general and executive authority in particular only ever seems to go in one direction. I can't think of any examples of any government actually volunatarily giving up some power.

    Pinochet/Chile and the democratic referendums.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Obama's unlimited faith in himself clearly colors the way he analyzes the questions raised by the NSA's snooping:

    Racist.

  • Jordan||

    The less charitable (and more plausible) explanation for Obama's sudden loss of interest in protecting Americans' privacy also fits this portrait of him as a man very much impressed by himself.

    Yep. He's a shortsighted narcissist. It's obvious in everything he does.

  • John||

    Not just that, he is a shortsighted narcissist even in comparison to other politicians and former Presidents. Saying Obama is a short sighted Narcissist is like saying LaBron James is a good basketball player. No, Obama excels at being a narcissist even against the most elite competition in the world.

  • ||

    Yeah, Obama's narcissism at least outwardly, dwarfs any other president I've seen. They've all probably just been better at hiding it, but then, what does that say about Obama as well?

  • John||

    The most amazing thing about Obama is how being President seems to have had no effect on him beyond aging him. Every other President from Johnson to Nixon to Reagan to Bubba and both Bushes moderated as they were in office. The weight of the job caused them to understand their enemies a little better and be less ideological. Especially in second terms, they tended to be more interested in working with the other side and being President of the whole country.

    But not Obama. He is the same nasty, arrogant fuck he was in 2008. The man has literally learned nothing or changed for the better despite over four years on the job.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a great truth about the man, and it's one of the most telling aspects of his administration. It doesn't learn from its mistakes and in no way sees what people want or even what's best for the country as a whole as remotely relevant to its actions, words, or policies.

    Arrogance, yes. Corruption, yes. But it's on a level I haven't seen outside of a corrupt state or two or a banana republic.

  • John||

    He is totally incapable of understanding his political opponents' arguments or motivation or admitting that anyone not on his side could have a reasonable point or making a well meaning defense of their interests. That is why he has been such a disaster for the political culture of this country. It is not good to have a President who tells everyone who didn't vote for him "I won" and "go fuck yourself".

  • Pro Libertate||

    One thing that's really gone awry in recent decades is this idea that winning a presidential election is a mandate for anything. For instance, Obamacare has never been popular with a majority of Americans.

    So, the fact that a minority of Americans voted the president into office (66 million out of 314 million or 21%) with only a 4 million difference (1.3%!) between Obama and Romney and the other parties' candidates. . .well, mandate is hardly the word. Presidents should realize that a small minority voting them into office doesn't affect the fact that they are supposed to represent the entire country, not just those that voted for them, or, in the case of this president, those few he needs to pay off.

  • John||

    You are never going to please everyone and some people are always going to hate you. But you can't just say "do what I want you to or else". The people who didn't vote for you need to feel like they at least get something of what they want.

    Sadly, politics is turning into, get in office and fuck the other side as much as possible. And you can't run a functioning republic like that.

  • R C Dean||

    It doesn't learn from its mistakes

    As some wit described, I believe, the French Bourbon dynasty:

    "They have forgotten nothing, and learned nothing."

    A perfect description of the Obama regime.

  • Paul.||

    Clinton was pretty narcissistic. We've just kind of forgotten.

  • John||

    Of course he was. They all are. That is what makes Obama's narcissism so staggering. He is excelling against competition like Clinton.

  • Tony||

    Doesn't the most powerful man on earth deserve to be a little narcissistic, if anyone does?

  • Jordan||

    No.

  • R C Dean||

    He's the last person we should tolerate narcissism from. The crushing weight of duty would drive every shred of narcissism from a decent man. While I'm doling out the aphorisms, one from, I believe, the samurai:

    "Duty is heavier than a mountain. Death is lighter than a feather."

  • Tony||

    I dunno. He seems pretty level-headed to me, all things considered. I'm just not even sure how you judge narcissism in a Harvard-educated leader of the free world. I'm gonna assume it's code language.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm just not even sure how you judge narcissism in a Harvard-educated leader of the free world.

    Ah, the naked, reverential credentialism of the progressives. Sort of like how men used to bow to men simply for wearing the priestly vestments. But if you love HAH-VUHD men so much, why do you hate Dubya? (Harvard Business School Class of 1975)

    I'm gonna assume it's code language.

    Reasoned analysis of people's actions. It's a cipher to our boy, Tony w/o spaces.

  • Tony||

    Business school isn't real school. And there is something of a qualitative difference between being credentialed by "vestments" and by an actual credential from one of the world's premier institutions of education.

    How do you "noncredentialists" gauge whether someone is worth listening to? I suppose it depends on how much they agree with what you already believe?

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Business school isn't real school.

    There goes those goal posts!

    How do you "noncredentialists" gauge whether someone is worth listening to? I suppose it depends on how much they agree with what you already believe?

    By analysing what they say and do, perhaps? Credentials are not the be all end all, Tony. You treat his graduation from Harvard as though it is all that matters, that, now everything he says and does is OK, because he has credentials. You are exactly like the men who bowed to men simply for wearing the priestly vestments, Tony.

  • Jordan||

    How do you "noncredentialists" gauge whether someone is worth listening to?

    By observing what they say and do. It's absolutely hilarious that you even have to ask that.

    Your Harvard Law degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on if you believe the Constitution gives you the power to assassinate and indefinitely detain citizens, spy on citizens without a warrant, and compel citizens to engage in commerce.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Business school isn't real school.

    Citation needed.

    And there is something of a qualitative difference between being credentialed by "vestments" and by an actual credential from one of the world's premier institutions of education.

    One must spend approximately 8 to 9 years in order to become a priest (undergrad and Master of Theology or Divinity, which Harvard also offers, BTW).

    How do you "noncredentialists" gauge whether someone is worth listening to?

    Previous actions and statements.

    I suppose it depends on how much they agree with what you already believe?

    Then you suppose wrongly, as you do with every other topic.

  • Homple||

    "How do you "noncredentialists" gauge whether someone is worth listening to? I suppose it depends on how much they agree with what you already believe?"

    By comparing what they say with observed reality, noting how the stuff they propose actually works out, and studying history to see the results of previous implementations of their stated ideas and principles

  • Tony||

    Okay you're all saying the same thing and it amounts to exactly what I said. Do any of you acknowledge that there are people who are more expert on subjects than you are, and are thus worth listening to and perhaps learning from? Or do you know it all already?

  • Homple||

    There are people who are more expert than I am on anything imaginable.

    And then there are quacks.

    You can usually tell the difference using the methods I describe above.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Okay you're all saying the same thing and it amounts to exactly what I said.

    Really?

    an actual credential from one of the world's premier institutions of education.

    No, Tony w/o spaces. You just need to learn to read.

    Do any of you acknowledge that there are people who are more expert on subjects than you are, and are thus worth listening to and perhaps learning from?

    Of course. Problem is, Obama has no demonstrable expertise in any subject except "winning elections."

    Or do you know it all already?

    Do I know it all? No. Do I know more than you? Yes, but then, that's not a very tall hurdle.

  • ||

    How do you "noncredentialists" gauge whether someone is worth listening to?

    This literally made me LOL.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    This literally made me LOL.

    Me too, for a fraction of a second. Then I was filled with abject terror that there are people out there who actually think this way.

  • Seamus||

    Law school isn't real school either. (I say that as a Virginia School of Law graduate).

  • R C Dean||

    I'm just not even sure how you judge narcissism in a Harvard-educated leader of the free world.

    Why not judge it just like you would for a normal human being? Unless you believe Obama is not a normal human being.

    I'm gonna assume it's code language.

    Code for what?

  • Homple||

    "Code language" = "Dog whistle"

  • Enough About Palin||

    When the Master governs, the people
    are hardly aware that he exists.
    Next best is a leader who is loved.
    Next, one who is feared.
    The worst is one who is despised.

    If you don't trust the people,
    you make them untrustworthy.

    The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
    When his work is done,
    the people say, "Amazing:
    we did it, all by ourselves!

    - Lao-tzu

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Doesn't the most powerful man on earth deserve to be a little narcissistic, if anyone does?

    No.

  • Paul.||

    Doesn't the most powerful man on earth deserve to be a little narcissistic, if anyone does?

    No-- and you've unintentionally touched on the problem. He's not supposed to be the most powerful man in the world, he's merely the POTUS.

    However, accepting your premise that he is the most powerful man in the world, that by definition requires a boatload of humility.

  • Tony||

    You know who else could use a good dose of humility? Libertarians who think they are qualified to diagnose the psychological ailments of people they've never met. Man you guys are fond of that.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    The NYT story explains the problem clearly: once you're president, you wake up every morning to potential threats, so any president is going to probably be biased in favor of security measures over a privacy advocate on the outside, even if that president used to be such an advocate.

    Wait, didn't you post this earlier? Is this not diagnosing the psychological ailments of presidents? Yet, somehow, you swallowed that without question because it pushes your all powerful centralized government desires.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Doesn't the most powerful man on earth deserve to be a little narcissistic, if anyone does?

    That speaks boxcar-loads about you, Tony.

  • JWatts||

    "Tony - Doesn't the most powerful man on earth deserve to be a little narcissistic, if anyone does?"

    So Tony, you think that George Bush deserved to be a little narcissistic?

  • Tony||

    Yes and obviously was. But I suppose he wasn't quite as uppity about it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sure, but he wasn't internalized narcissism like Obama. He wanted it confirmed. That's why he kept radically changing his political position as the country lurched back rightwards during his administration (likely never left that position, of course, just made it clearer in the elections).

  • KDN||

    The one thing that really upset Obama, Baker says, was learning that "the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was being tapped." Since she is a fellow head of state

    So the one thing that trouble Obama is the one thing they were doing right? Sounds about right.

  • John||

    And Obama still managed to offend her and fuck up our relationship with Germany.

  • Pro Libertate||

    There is very little he can say in a speech that's worth anything. Because these idiots--him, his administration, his predecessors--have made it abundantly clear that no lie, no constitutional violation, no shenanigan, won't be used against the American people in the name, but rarely the reality, of national security. So he can say he'll shut it all down, close the NSA, and swear to himself that he'll never allow such a thing to happen again, all while WE ALL KNOW he's lying.

  • Killaz||

    Let's not forget when it looked like the nation was in jeopardy of losing his wise stewardship after the first debate, he convened his people to make a set of rules limiting President Romney's use of the drone program. He is that guy.

  • AlgerHiss||

    Our little Marxist twit.

  • Invisible Finger||

    It's not that he has faith in himself, it's that he's a fucking psycho who is in LOVE with himself.

  • R C Dean||

    Obama's narcissism provides a pretty complete explanation for everything he does, doesn't it?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Now I feel like hearing Rush's "Malignant Narcissism".

  • Sevo||

    ..."The one thing that really upset Obama, Baker says, was learning that "the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was being tapped.""...

    Unless you subscribe to the 'Gentlemen don't read other gentlemens' mail' theory of intel, this is what the US spies are *supposed* to do.
    What they are NOT supposed to do is spy on US citizens

  • Invisible Finger||

    Perhaps Dr. Obama phoned Mrs. Merkel on her cell phone several times. He's upset there's a record of those calls somewhere.

  • Seamus||

    If he was sending her Anthony Weiner-style text messages, that would help explain his annoyance.

  • Christophe||

    You could argue that spying on our allies is mostly a waste of time and resources.

  • Adam330||

    Even if Obama trusts himself, and we were to accept his benevolence, it doesn't really resolve the issue because the President has no idea about 99.9% of what the NSA is doing and therefore cannot exert his benevolent control. The decisions what spy programs to run are made by people 5 paygrades below Obama, and the actual implementation is done by people 20 pay-grades below Obama. All he knows is what the folks at NSA decide to tell him, and what the press happens to find out and report. The fact that he had no idea they had bugged Merkel's phone confirms this.

  • Dave Krueger||

    'We’re not really concerned about you, Barack, but God forbid some other guy's in the office five years from now and there’s another 9/11'

    To summarize: It's ok when our guy does it.

  • JWatts||

    Not only that, but they don't even try to hide it. It's not just an unspoken thought, it's a guiding principle.

  • Seamus||

    The one thing that really upset Obama, Baker says, was learning that "the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was being tapped." Since she is a fellow head of state, I'm guessing, Obama can empathize with her. The rest of us, not so much.

    She's only a head of government, not a head of state. The head of state would be Joachim Gauck, the German Federal President.

    I know, I know, I'm a pedantic dick, but I can't help it.

  • grrizzly||

    Merkel is the top man sic in Germany, just like Obama is here. We need a word to describe such a person. Leader should work, it sounds even better in German.

  • Enough About Palin||

    So Führer Obama, then?

  • Response||

    Just another case of absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unlike past Presidents, the media is the branch that is truly supposed to provide oversight. Without that oversight, the president feels invulnerable as he becomes surrounded by yes-men. I blame the media as most people would do the same.

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