How Much Do Libertarians Really Dig Obama?


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.