We ration our usage of “What if Bush had done that?” constructions in reference to Obama. A person has to watch one’s bandwidth, and Obama is a walking binge.
But Politico finally strapped on a set of balls to ask the question itself:
President Barack Obama has forged a surprising consensus on opposite ends of the political spectrum: They wonder how on earth he gets away with it.
A series of recent moves — from aggressively filling his reelection war chest to green-lighting shoot-to-kill orders against an American terror suspect overseas — would have triggered a massive backlash if George W. Bush had tried them, say former Bush administration officials and a few on the political left. Even Obama’s love for the links draws only gentle ribbing rather than the denunciations that helped drive Bush to give up the game for the balance of his presidency.
The muted public response has fueled frustration – and more than a little envy.
“A little bit of consistency from the media would be appreciated — and from the left-wing groups,” said Mark Corallo, director of public affairs at the Justice Department from 2002-05. “I don’t see anybody standing up. … Where is the outrage?”
Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald, an icon of what the Obama White House famously dubbed “the professional left,” also sees a strange lack of interest toward some of Obama’s policies. Among them: his administration’s claim that the Constitution allows executive use of armed drones to kill U.S. citizens abroad deemed to be terrorist operatives.
“Virtually all the Democrats who were apoplectic about Bush and were constantly complaining about him ‘trampling on our values’ over eavesdropping and detention have been silent about assassination, even though it’s so much more severe,” Greenwald said. “It isn’t that Obama is necessarily any worse on civil liberties than Bush. The point is he’s able to get away with so much more.”
Here’s a look at five areas in which critics on the left and right say Obama’s gotten a relatively easy ride:
A green light to kill U.S. citizens abroad
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder visited Chicago to lay out his rationale that the U.S. government has the legal right to kill U.S.-citizen terror suspects overseas — and that there’s no role for the courts in reviewing such use of lethal force.
Fundraising and swing state travel
Obama, who came into office bemoaning a broken electoral system, has proved surprisingly energetic at fundraising from wealthy donors and using his office to his political benefit in states that could decide his reelection.
He’s attended 103 reelection fundraisers — about double the 52 such events Bush had attended at this point in 2004, according to tallies kept by CBS’s Mark Knoller.
Obama also changed course and recently blessed the efforts of super PAC Priorities USA Action, allowing top campaign aides and even Cabinet members to appear at its fundraising events.
And while Bush and his Cabinet members were slammed by Democrats for official travel to swing states before key elections, Obama has made more than 60 trips to swing states since taking office. His travel after his State of the Union address this year was exclusively to states potentially pivotal this fall: Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan.
Let me interject that Michelle Obama is no stranger to this behavior either. She just hops a plane to a swing state (New Hampshire last week), spews some nonsense about her Let’s Move program (a front organization if I ever saw one), then squeezes in a few fundraisers and friendly interviews.
But back to her old man:
Closed-door CEO courting
When Vice President Dick Cheney met privately with oil company executives to talk about energy policy, he was excoriated for being an industry stooge and wound up on the receiving end of lawsuits that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Yet, Obama has repeatedly met with CEOs behind closed doors with little outcry about whether he’s in the tank for business interests.
Last February, he had a sit-down in Silicon Valley with the CEOs of Twitter, NetFlix, Apple, Facebook and Google. In August, the heads of American Express, Xerox, Wells Fargo and Johnson & Johnson were among those who won a cozy Roosevelt Room meeting with Obama. And in 2010, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon had a one-on-one with Obama in the Oval Office. All had the chance to plead their case, and their companies’ case, privately with the president.
The private confabs generate less suspicion because the media consensus — and, to some extent, that of watchdog groups — is that Obama and the business leaders have a strained relationship. Since he’s not seen as being in the pocket of business, the secrecy produces few complaints — even though the potential for the kind of lobbying Obama has criticized is obvious.
Another interjection: sure, Obama talks smack about business; but let them contribute heavily to his campaign, and he’s all smiles. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric, and General Motors is a wholly owned subsidiary of the US government.
A leak crackdown that could send reporters to jail
The Obama administration has launched an unprecedented drive to put alleged leakers of government secrets behind bars — a campaign that could end up putting reporters in the same place.
Since Obama took office, prosecutors have filed six criminal, Espionage Act cases over leaks — more prosecutions than under all prior presidents combined. In one, the Justice Department is trying to force New York Times reporter James Risen to identify his confidential sources and has argued to a federal appeals court that journalists enjoy no privilege against being called as witnesses in a criminal case. If the government prevails, Risen is likely to end up in jail for contempt.
The anti-leak drive and the potential for journalists to be caught in the crossfire is an occasional subject of news stories and editorials, but Bush officials are convinced they could never have gotten away with what has happened under Obama.
Hey Aggie, we got any of those much coveted Ya Think?™ Awards? Maybe a dented one?
No feces, Francis!
What’s the consistent theme behind all these curious omissions? The media, and liberals in general. They’ve got his back, facts be damned.
And Aggie and I have cited many more examples over the years. Who can forget, for example, when Obama and Holder defended civilian trials for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al on the grounds that they’d be found guilty anyway! Prejudge much?
Don’t just listen to us grumpy conservatives. The proof is there. Obama’s shady background and his dangerous administration remain unvetted by the media—and always will be.
Update: I found an old, bent-up ‘Ya Think™ Award for Politico reporter, Josh Gerstein. And, frankly, it’s more than anyone in the media deserves. What nerve to notice this now. – Aggie