Terrorism

How Much Do Libertarians Really Dig Obama?

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Somewhat interesting, but quite misleadingly headlined, Slate article that's really a report about a recent Cato Institute conference on counterterrorism but instead framed as being in some way about the larger issue of libertarians comfort level with President Obama. The head? "Cozying Up to the New Guy: Libertarians Are Oddly Hopeful About the Obama Administration."

But the article rightly notes a wide range of libertarian dissatisfaction:

it's clear that Barack Obama will not be the president of libertarians' dreams. Other clues: He wants to spend more on health care. He's squishy on the Second Amendment. Oh, and he's presiding over a massive government bailout of pretty much the entire U.S. economy.

Author Michael Newman's piece is framed to imply that the fact that libertarians are more cheered by Obama on things like torture policy and Guantanamo is a sign of a larger libertarian rapprochement with Obama's administration, which I think is not apt to be true.

In the end, despite its headline, the piece's point seems to be little larger than Newman's conclusion that it's "Better for a think tank to focus on issues where its perspective is more likely to have some influence on whomever happens to be in the White House."

True. But there still isn't much evidence right now that the likes of Cato have a very wide range of such areas for Obama–even on the topic of the conference Newman writes about, counterterrorism. As Newman also notes:

The final panel… was [about] how best to tell a skeptical public that the risk of terrorism in America is actually quite small. "Terrorism in a lot of ways is not a very big deal," said one panelist. It's not a quote you're going to hear any politician repeat anytime soon.

Newman links to this Reason article in which some people in our orbit confessed they were voting Obama.

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  1. don’t you guys know you agree with us?

  2. We might cozy up to an agenda item or two. But to the administration? Wholesale? Doubtful.

  3. I prefer a “wait and see” approach before either lauding or condemning the new guy.

  4. “hotsauce | January 27, 2009, 11:55am | #
    We might cozy up to an agenda item or two. But to the administration? Wholesale? Doubtful.”

    This.

  5. “How Much Do Libertarians Really Dig Obama?”

    Speaking only for myself, less and less as time goes on.

  6. I’m a little shocked to see that Lonewacko hasn’t checked in yet.

  7. If they’re hoping for a libertarian love-in with the new Administration they will be shown for the fools they are. Obama will soon lose the love and vast electoral power of the libertarian masses. That’s right, all 17 of us. Suck on that Obama!

  8. Warty–

    Dude, cut it out. You’re going to summon him to this thread faster than a pedophile to a playground by mentioning his name! SHH!

  9. It’s not a quote you’re going to hear any politician repeat anytime soon.

    When politicians don’t think something is a big deal, they don’t go out and give speeches about how it’s not a big deal, setting off back-and-forth debates about how big a deal the issue is, that ricochet around the media for days or weeks.

  10. The final panel… was [about] how best to tell a skeptical public that the risk of terrorism in America is actually quite small. “Terrorism in a lot of ways is not a very big deal,” said one panelist. It’s not a quote you’re going to hear any politician repeat anytime soon.

    Having one person on the panel (who i believe isn’t officially related to CATO) say something like this, doesnt really do it for me. Its hard for me to imagine something like this coming out of Jim Harper’s mouth, for instance.

  11. “Libertarians might not be happy with Obama”

    Oh, gee, you think? Pretty much the only “libertarian” here I heard splooging over Obama was Chapman, and he’s retarded.

  12. The statement in quotes in the last post of mine were not direct quotes, but they were gist of the post.

  13. LoneWacko touched me in my bathing suit area.

  14. I thought LoneWacko was cleared of those charges?

  15. Well, seeing that any libertarians who voted for Obama were doing it primarily to punish the GOP…

    Anyway, fuck the two party system.

  16. I thought the whole point of being a libertarian was pointing out that it didn’t matter if politicians were red or blue, but to argue that they should have little or no power over our lives. Perhaps we’d be all better off if we just got over this partisan idea that we’ll always get a better government with a certain party in charge, and instead focus our efforts on other areas.

  17. Given that Obama says we’re still going to torture, we’re still going to warrantlessly wiretap, we’re still not giving anyone in Gitmo trials, plus we’re going to massively increase the size of gov’t, plus we’re going to nationalize healthcare…

    Well, I can’t understand why libertarians aren’t celebrating. They must be racists or something.

  18. When politicians don’t think something is a big deal, they don’t go out and give speeches about how it’s not a big deal,

    Repeating a quote is not the same as giving a speech. Have you seen how many of these guys join the talking heads on TV on a daily basis?

  19. *looks in a mirror*

    Lonewacko! Lonewacko! Lonewacko!

  20. I don’t understand.

    First I was told by Republicans Obama is surrendering to Islamofascism and making America unsafe, then the next Republican tells me Obama is doing exactly what Bush did.

  21. But- What about gay marriage?

    *Walks slowly away, gazing skyward, whistling.*

  22. Libertarians don’t like Obama because they’re market fundamentalist cunts.

  23. Christ, Brooks, why don’t you bring up abortion while you’re at it?

  24. It’s not a quote you’re going to hear any politician repeat anytime soon.

    Obviously. Unlike global warming, terrorism is clearly not a big deal, so no one is going to go around taking about it, and there won’t be any media coverage of an issue no one cares about.

  25. When politicians don’t think something is a big deal, they don’t go out and give speeches about how it’s not a big deal,

    That’s odd, I’m pretty sure lots of politicians have done that regarding global warming.

  26. Inexplicably, many libertarians voted for Obama. I suspect that it was to punish the GOP, or throw a rock at GWB, or take a shot at divided government rather than any shared philosophy.

    I hope.

  27. I would say that I like the way he’s going about things so far, as far as being relatively open about his policies and decisive in action (signing the close-Gitmo thing immediately).

    That still doesn’t mean I agree with most of his policies, however. I might have the illusion that we can at least fight his policies, as opposed to Bush simply declaring things through executive order.

    But fundamentally nothing’s really changed, except I guess I feel slightly better about it post-Bush, and feel much better that we don’t McCain running things.

    I suppose no libertarian will really be happy until the Executive Branch returns to it’s pre-Teddy Roosevelt position, which likely will never happen…

  28. Disclosure: Newman was a former boss (and big supporter) of mine (and Tim Cavanaugh’s) at the L.A. Times, and is also a good friend. Neither of which Doherty has any reason to know or care about, etc.

  29. Inexplicably, many libertarians voted for Obama.

    Possible explination:

    Alaska Gov. Sarah “Fucking Dipshit” Palin

  30. What if an union-organizing illegal immigrant gay married couple were hurt in a police raid while smoking pot to induce an abortion? The threads would implode.

  31. “Taktix? | January 27, 2009, 12:24pm | #
    Inexplicably, many libertarians voted for Obama.

    Possible explination:

    Alaska Gov. Sarah “Fucking Dipshit” Palin”

    ELITIST!

  32. I’m oddly hopeful in much the same way I’m strangely exuberant over chronic anal leakage and malignant tumors.

  33. Inexplicably, many libertarians voted for Obama. I suspect that it was to punish the GOP, or throw a rock at GWB,

    If so, they should be heaving boulders in 2010.

  34. ELITIST!

    If not wanting my children to learn that the Earth is 6000 years old and that people rode dinosaurs makes me an elitist, than call me Captian Cosmotarian!

  35. First I was told by Republicans Obama is surrendering to Islamofascism and making America unsafe, then the next Republican tells me Obama is doing exactly what Bush did.

    We should totally believe them this time.

  36. I would say that I like the way he’s going about things so far, as far as being relatively open about his policies and decisive in action (signing the close-Gitmo thing immediately).

    Well, closing Gitmo in a year, with not a word about what we are going to do with the detainees, is certainly symbolic action. Whether it will be anything more than that, we’ll have to wait and see.

    But fundamentally nothing’s really changed, except I guess I feel slightly better about it post-Bush,

    There you go. Much more realistic.

  37. When politicians don’t think something is a big deal, they don’t go out and give speeches about how it’s not a big deal,

    The reason they don’t is because the above position is one a politician would take if they wanted to decrease spending on some government program, and that is a contradiction in terms.

  38. there won’t be any media coverage of an issue no one cares about.

    …..the turnip truck you fell off of is getting away. Better dust yourself off and start running.

  39. That’s odd, I’m pretty sure lots of politicians have done that regarding global warming.

    OK, there’s Inhofe. Let me amend that:

    “Whan a politician who doesn’t have his head crammed into his rear end don’t think something is a big deal, he doesn’t go out and give speeches about how it’s not a big deal, setting off back-and-forth debates about how big a deal the issue is, that ricochet around the media for days or weeks.”

  40. “He’s squishy on the Second Amendment.”

    Squishy hell. He’s positively hostile to the Second Amendment in general and gun owners in particular. Look at his record and his statements.

  41. DC libertarians are basically liberals. As such, they suffer from extreme feelings of race guilt. They are willing to let this guilt override any “principles” that they espouse mainly to get invited to libertarian social hours.

    Thus, I predict many of them will be quite happy with Obama. However, their hopes of using their Obama-fanhood to tap into the liberal female supply are unlikely to be fulfilled. Even liberal females can sniff desperate beta males from a mile away.

  42. Thankfully, Cactus, we have an even more pro-gun Senate than we did before, even if its less Republican. Ex: Hagan, Warner Gillibrand.

  43. Inexplicably, many libertarians voted for Obama.

    Possible explination:

    Alaska Gov. Sarah “Fucking Dipshit” Palin

    I ain’t buying. You could have skipped the booth altogether, you could have voted LP, or you could have written in TWC.

    Any of those choices would be superior to voting for someone you know very well is going to stick a fork in your eye.

  44. I don’t understand how a principled libertarian would vote for Obama, under any circumstances. Thus, the prospect of having Sarah Palin as Veep is an infantile reason for a libertarian to cast her ballot for the overrated one.

  45. “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

    -Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope

  46. I ain’t buying. You could have skipped the booth altogether, you could have voted LP, or you could have written in TWC.

    I personally skipped the booth myself, but I can see how it would be easy to fall into the “keep McCain out of office” camp come election day.

    One can talk a good game about Barr or Badnarik or whoever becomes this cycle’s sacificial lamb, but when the day comes, I know plenty of people who think they’re wasting their vote by going third party.

    It’s easy to think of things as black and white, or at least think of picking the lesser of only two evils. And that fact, I believe, is why Bush was able to stay in office as long as he did.

  47. I don’t understand how a principled libertarian would vote for Obama, under any circumstances. Thus, the prospect of having Sarah Palin as Veep is an infantile reason for a libertarian to cast her ballot for the overrated one.

    If it were Goldwater/Palin or even Bush I/Palin, I’d agree. McCain was a cancer-ridden, angry old fool with 1.5 feet in the grave. We were effectively voting for Palin in 2010 with that ticket.

    And even if they won, I’d wager McCain would still sign the bailout, still institute these expansive programs, and still be at least comparatively as much of an ass as Obama. This is why I didn’t vote.

    I mean, fuck, after the last eight years, why are people still clinging to this idea that the GOP won’t expand government programs?

  48. Let’s indulge in a counterfactual, for a moment:

    McCain has just been elected to the presidency. In his first week does he:

    Repudiate torture?
    Rehabilitate the FOIA?
    Commit to closing secret prisons?
    Commit to closing Guantanamo Bay?
    Halt (probably illegal, bullshit) military commissions?
    End the Global Gag Rule?
    Re-institute a states’ rights position on emissions standards?

    Does Barr, even (to indulge in a *ridiculous* counterfactual), if he were elected?

    Libertarians have plenty of economics reasons to be annoyed by Obama, but it should be clear that on human rights and civil rights (and even states’ rights!) he’s already better than anyone we’ve had in twenty years. Sure, he has time to reverse that trend, but I find it unlikely.

  49. McCain has just been elected to the presidency. In his first week does he:

    Of course not, which is why the Republican regulars are spinning overtime to pretend that Obama hasn’t done those things, either.

  50. Iggy,

    Great, another one with his head up his ass.

    You better get on the turnip truck with Inhofe.

  51. If by “repudiate torure,” you mean say we’re considering continuing to torture high-value suspects as Obama has, then Yes.

    If by “rehabilitate the FOIA?” you mean assert the right to continue warrantless wiretapping as Obama has, then Yes.

    That’s why leftists are working overtime to try to pretend he hasn’t done those things.

    He also wouldn’t be nationalizing healthcare or expanding gov’t by $1T.

  52. Fuckhead reasoning: we have to oppose the guy who’s against totalitarian shit like torture, black holes, ghost prisoners and kangaroo courts, because he wants the government to help poor people pay their medical bills.

    And as Hayek taught us, bigger government will inevitably lead to totalitarian shit like torture, black holes, ghost prisoners and kangaroo courts.

    Therefore, for freedom’s sake, we should have supported the candidate who’s actively in favor of totalitarian shit like torture, black holes, ghost prisoners and kangaroo courts.

  53. Please ignore my troll and his dirty language above. Unlike him, I make valuable contributions to the debate.

  54. You picked the right name, Counterfactual.

    BTW, you don’t know what the FOIA is.

  55. Fucktard reasoning: we have to support the guy who SAYS he’s against totalitarian shit like torture, black holes, ghost prisoners and kangaroo courts but does them anyway the minute he’s elected, because he wants the government taxpayers to help poor people pay their medical bills.

  56. I know plenty of people who think they’re wasting their vote by going third party.

    I agree but I don’t understand the thinking.

    If a libertarian votes for GWB, isn’t that wasting a vote? Sort of like an Episcopalian worshiping at the local Advent church. The Adventists are talking with God but there ain’t no meat on the plate.

  57. it should be clear that on human rights and civil rights (and even states’ rights!) he’s already better than anyone we’ve had in twenty years

    I’m cautiously optimistic, but let’s not start sucking each others dicks yet. While it’s superior to a campaign promise, all he’s done so far is ‘write a memo’. The follow through on nearly all of those issues is what’s actually important; it does no good if you dump the frying pan into the fire.

    That said, the more important outcome of the election is that nearly every white house staffer and undersecretary has or will be replaced* – which would have not happened in a McCain admin, so there is highly likelyhood of actual ‘change’.

    *I am surprised they kept on Gates (who’s keeping on a lot of his people, and/or bringing on others that are card carrying members of the military-industrial complex)

  58. I think everybody needs a little perspective here. Obama is already moderately better than Bush, and is probably moderately better than McCain would have been. None of this is saying much at all, and it shouldn’t be seen as “support” for Obama, since, yes, he has some really awful policy ideas, but we should be able to recognize and acknowledge incremental improvement when we see it.

  59. I am surprised they kept on Gates…

    I’m not surprised so much as disappointed.

    I’m cautiously optimistic, but let’s not start sucking each others dicks yet.

    Both metaphorically and literally, I agree.

  60. Troll Doll | January 27, 2009, 1:17pm | #

    Fucktard reasoning: we have to support the guy who SAYS he’s against totalitarian shit like torture, black holes, ghost prisoners and kangaroo courts but does them anyway the minute he’s elected, because he wants the government taxpayers to help poor people pay their medical bills.

    All of the things I said wouldn’t happen if Obama was elected are actually happening, so I’m just going to pretend they aren’t.

    But no way I’m putting my name on that; I’d look like an idiot!

  61. Today’s Joe trolling is exceptionally subtle, and, I think, there’s something almost artistic about it. Well done.

    Also — no. I doubt the libertarianism of anyone who voted for Obama, or who fully (or even mostly) supports him today.

  62. Hmm Me no likey socialist policies, so me no like obama.

  63. I kind of wonder if maybe Lefiti is the one trolling joe.

  64. ya know we all harp on the pres, bus obama etc. but in all reality, he has NO POWER! that is in the senate and house. the pres is supposed to be a figurehead and a const. check on congress. he can no more make ploicy than he can make gold from lead. he can propose ideas. but executive orders are not binding, they are not law.

  65. I read that article in Slate and thought it was incrediby stupid. A lot of my leftist friends seem to have little clue as to where libertarians stand on anything, they live with caricatures in their minds. It pays to take the time to read Hayek and Mises, subscribe to Reason, participate in H&R, etc., and such.

  66. MNG | January 27, 2009, 1:43pm | #
    I read that article in Slate and thought it was incrediby stupid. A lot of my leftist friends seem to have little clue as to where libertarians stand on anything, they live with caricatures in their minds. It pays to take the time to read Hayek and Mises, subscribe to Reason, participate in H&R, etc., and such.

    Irony is dead.

  67. Solana | January 27, 2009, 1:32pm | #
    Today’s Joe trolling is exceptionally subtle, and, I think, there’s something almost artistic about it. Well done.

    Agreed, and I might add that he’s certainly not taking it well.

    Also — no. I doubt the libertarianism of anyone who voted for Obama, or who fully (or even mostly) supports him today.

    It’s a little early, espc here on the west coast, but rules is rules:

    DRINK!

  68. I kind of wonder if maybe Lefiti is the one trolling joe.

    Nah, Lefiti isn’t that good at subtlety.

  69. Agreed, and I might add that he’s certainly not taking it well.

    Spoofing someone, e-mail and all, is pretty close to the most obnoxious thing a person can do on a forum, because the only technical authority that is lent to a person’s comments comes from the social capital that they build around their nickname.

    I’d be a little irritated too.

    It is easily distinguished from “spoofing” in such a way that it is immediately clear the spoof is not the real thing.

  70. Will you people please stop spoofing one another? We are getting to the point where we stop asking nicely, and start banning IP addresses.

  71. OK. Who’s spoofing Matt Welch? That’s not cool, man.

  72. Uh… sorry. I was trying to be witty. I assumed that was the real Joe…

  73. Matt, what good will that do? Any halfway competent troll will manage to use an anonymizer. Slashdot-esque optional registration is the only way to fix this.

  74. I have wondered if libertarians voted for Obama more out of class consciousness than true belief. I mean, one Reason writer went from being a Giuliani supporter to an Obama supporter – I doubt it was a sudden epiphany on Guantanamo.

    Because of changes in our economy, the new upper middle classes – well educated, well off, now feel their oats and Obama was one of us. Call it what you will, the “creative class”, “yuppies”, or (my personal favorite) the “bobos” (David Brooks shorthand for bourgeois bohemians). Obama and his wife, who have made their money in intellectual pursuits, have more in common with this new class than naval aviator John McCain and his wife, the beer seller. Obama drinks the right wines, eats the right foods, read the right books, and went to the right schools. He is post modern, and post racial.

    My wife says I have something of a chip on my shoulders regarding the class and my membership in it. I seem to take delight in being a class traitor. Most of our friends and acquaintances seem to be the sons of doctors, lawyers, and other educated types, or if not, they either keep their background a closely guarded secret or make fun of their parents. I on the other hand, am proud and open about the fact that my parents were poor children of Italian immigrants and that my mom was a high school dropout who did pretty well for herself.

    I also think the fact that Obama himself is a blank slate and people project their beliefs onto him. He admitted as much in one of his autobiographies. Libertarians are just as capable of that as others. I see it somewhat different. I think he is leftist in background and sentiment but has not real ideology. So my hope is that he gets pushed in the direction I would like to see. My fear is that he is really a managerial state type, not so much out of ideology, but out of intellectual hubris.

  75. We are getting to the point where we stop asking nicely, and start banning IP addresses.

    Much better than a registration scheme.I’m willing to bet the most egregious offenders will be clueless about a work around.

  76. Warty,

    Missed your comment above.See mine.I wouldn’t be surprised if the spoofer just figured out that he could copy and paste email addresses.Proxies,even simple anonymizer web proxies, are probably way out of his league.

  77. I don’t understand how a principled libertarian would vote for Obama, under any circumstances.

    Simple. As a libertarian who thinks voting in our current electoral system is utterly insignificant if not actively counter effective, I voted for Obama to make my mother, my sister and my girlfriend happy. Please note, that even if the perfect libertarian candidate was on the ballot, I would still gain more by voting for the big O and lose nothing.

  78. “DC libertarians are basically liberals. As such, they suffer from extreme feelings of race guilt. They are willing to let this guilt override any “principles” that they espouse mainly to get invited to libertarian social hours.”

    this memeplex (we could call it the “rockwellian reflex”) is sort of interesting, but does it really make even a small bit of sense? if one’s interest was indeed cocktail parties or simply being neck deep in trim (of either gender), wouldn’t it make far more sense to be a liberal first, with libertarian leanings?

    thus you’d get all the upsides (cocktail parties, sex) and none of the downsides (reduced exposure to cocktail parties, sex).

    think this one out, kids.

  79. Whether it’s Bush or Obama matters about as much as a choice between cyanide or arsenic.

  80. McCain has just been elected to the presidency. In his first week does he:

    Repudiate torture?

    As has been demonstrated, Obama has left a loophole to use torture when it seems really necessary. Which is pretty much what the Bushites did, unless you have a really extraordinarily broad definition of torture.

    Rehabilitate the FOIA?

    I’ll give him points for style on FOIA, but this is another “time will tell” issue. FOIA continues to contain allow many, many ways to obstruct requests, and while his executive order tells the agencies to take a different attitude toward FOIA requests, all those obstructions are still there.

    Now, amending FOIA, that would be something, but I’m not aware that Obama is going to be pushing actual amendments. Again, the executive order is more PR than substance.

    Commit to closing Guantanamo Bay?

    In and of itself, pointless symbolism. What matters is what kind of due process is given to these people and how long they are held without due process. More PR than substance.

    Halt (probably illegal, bullshit) military commissions?

    The commissions were halted by the Supreme Court. What Obama stopped was the UCMJ military tribunals that the Supreme Court approved of, and which were certainly, therefore, legal.

    And I must say, it strikes me as a little odd that, when faced with people who have been held for years without due process, the first thing he does is put a stop to due process approved by SCOTUS.

    Re-institute a states’ rights position on emissions standards?

    In reality, this is an unconsitutional move intended to allow California to set nationwide emissions standards, without anyone in Washington having to dirty their hands. Not one to be proud of, IMO.

    Would McCain have demonstrated such a mastery of the symbolic executive order as press release? Not a chance.

  81. I voted for Obama to make my mother, my sister and my girlfriend happy.

    That’s the beauty of the “secret” ballot. You can go in there, and vote for anyone (Yosemite Sam, Calvin Coolidge, whomever), or no-one (my candidate of choice). Later, you lie about it.

    “Well, of course I voted for Him, honey. What did you think I was gonna do? Don’t you trust me?”

  82. “That’s the beauty of the “secret” ballot.”

    Maybe he lives in Chicago?

  83. this memeplex (we could call it the “rockwellian reflex”) is sort of interesting, but does it really make even a small bit of sense?

    We could consider it progress; I haven’t seen a single one this week blaming Reason for Ron Paul’s shocking, upset loss in the presidential election.

  84. “That’s the beauty of the “secret” ballot.”

    It won’t be for long when the “card check” union goons get through working over anybody they think they can bully into a union.

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