Politics

Friedersdorf on the Presidential Election: "To Hell with Them Both"

Obama's transgressions as president should be considered deal-breakers, he argues

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Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, who supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, will not be doing so this election. Furthermore, he's challenging Obama's army of progressive backers to justify their continued embrace despite the incumbent's significant human rights violations.

Friedersdorf tags three major deal-breakers:

  1. Shut it down!

    Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn't "precise" or "surgical" as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment. At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists. It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy. And Democrats who believe that it is the most moral of all responsible policy alternatives are as misinformed and blinded by partisanship as any conservative ideologue. 

  2. Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did. It is as radical an invocation of executive power as anything Dick Cheney championed. The fact that the Democrats rebelled against those men before enthusiastically supporting Obama is hackery every bit as blatant and shameful as anything any talk radio host has done.  
  3. Contrary to his own previously stated understanding of what the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution demand, President Obama committed U.S. forces to war in Libya without Congressional approval, despite the lack of anything like an imminent threat to national security. 

Friedersdorf also points to Obama's war on whistleblowers as another serious issue demonstrating the gap between Obama the candidate and Obama the president:

Obama ran in the proud American tradition of reformers taking office when wartime excesses threatened to permanently change the nature of the country. But instead of ending those excesses, protecting civil liberties, rolling back executive power, and reasserting core American values, Obama acted contrary to his mandate. The particulars of his actions are disqualifying in themselves. But taken together, they put us on a course where policies Democrats once viewed as radical post-9/11 excesses are made permanent parts of American life.

There are so many choice passages in Friedersdorf piece that posting every masterful observation of Obama's dangerous precedents would make a mockery of the concept of "fair use," so go read it now. He has decided that if he does vote, he will cast his ballot for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson (who is doing an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit today).