The 2012 election season finally, mercifully ended last month, when voters re-elected Barack Obama as president. The president's supporters naturally celebrated the victory as an affirmation of Obama's first term. But many also breathed a sigh of relief. Now that their man was safely returned to the White House, it was finally acceptable to start criticizing Obama in public again.
"I have been mostly holding my tongue about the president this past season," admitted HBO host Bill Maher, one of the president's staunchest boosters on the boob tube, "because I didn't want to muddy the waters in a country where you only get two choices." The New Yorker, a bastion of progressive thinking, proudly declared that it would now get tough on the president in his second term.
If Team Blue is truly serious about taking the president to task, here are 3 issues where even liberals can admit Obama has been a failure, disappointment, or worse.
3. The Drug War
Barack Obama became the first president in U.S. history to have admitted to both marijuana and cocaine use, yet his administration has prosecuted the drug war as vigorously as any predecessor. Obama's drug warrior status is made worse by the fact that his position flies in the face of a country moving in a decidedly different direction. For the first time ever, a majority of Americans were found to support drug legalization, and nearly three-quarters support medical marijuana. On the same night Obama was re-elected, voters in Washington and Colorado decriminalized marijuana, yet the Obama administration has since responded by insisting it will continue to enforce federal drug law. Unfortunately, that's no surprise given the administration's aggressive war on medical marijuana facilities in places like California and Colorado despite Obama's campaign promises not to use federal power to circumvent state medical marijuana laws. Throughout the election, Obama's supporters hoped against hope that he would take a different tack on the war on drugs in his second term. It's time for Team Blue to hold the president's feet to the fire and demand a more sensible drug policy.
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2. The War in Afghanistan
In 2008, Obama managed to parlay his 2003 opposition to the war in Iraq as an Illinois state senator to help propel himself past the rest of the Democratic field, filled as it was with senators who voted for the Iraq War before opposing it. Yet by the time he was a general election candidate, Obama pivoted to a more aggressive stance on Afghanistan, calling it the "good war." Upon taking office, the president took his time in moving on Afghanistan, eventually approving a troop surge similar to the one ordered by George W. Bush in Iraq. Bush's surge at least helped make possible a status of forces agreement that saw U.S. troops leave Iraq in 2011 (though not before Obama tried to renege on the agreement). Nevertheless, any hopes that a similar surge might create a comparable opportunity to end the war in Afghanistan have been dashed by now.
Meanwhile, Obama campaigned for re-election on the issue of bringing the war in Afghanistan to a responsible close even as his government negotiated with Afghan officials for the kind of long-term presence Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was pilloried for proposing in 2008. And matters have only gotten worse since the election, with America's military leadership all but announcing that the president's word on ending the war is worthless and that the U.S. is in Afghanistan to stay. One more thing: U.S. forces returned to Iraq just a few months ago.
Perhaps it's time for Obama supporters to dust off their anti-war signs and hit the streets.
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1. Drone Attacks
Unfortunately for those innocent civilians around the world who have found themselves on the receiving end of an American drone strike over the last few years, the command-in-chief has been a Democrat, which means critical attention by both liberal voters and the mainstream media has been limited at best. Even the White House expected more scrutiny over its use of drones. In fact, the Obama administration recently began codifying the rules governing drone strikes just in case Mitt Romney won the election. Romney didn't win, of course, but that's no reason for Team Blue to stop worrying about the issue.