Image via WikipediaI wrote a piece back during the first month of President Obama's term that laid out the four things that I wanted him to accomplish. I was under no allusion that the administration was paying attention to my blog, but I figured it was worth the effort at the time. Of the four issues I mentioned, only one (health care) has been addressed in any significant way. Just as a refresher to all those who weren't followers of this blog at the time, the other three issues were Afghanistan, education and restoration of the Constitutional rights that were taken away under the previous administration.
I understand that logistics have gotten in the way of any significant change in Afghanistan, so I'm willing to give the President a pass on that one. I still don't believe that we have a real exit strategy or that our troops are doing any good, but I understand the difficulty in removing an army that is propping up a puppet regime. However, the fact that education hasn't even gotten so much as a passing mention does not make me particularly happy. And the rolling back of rights that are guaranteed under the Constitution, well let's just say that this administration has apparently decided that it likes being able to eavesdrop on our conversations, detain us without due process and ship us off to other countries for "questioning" if it feels it's necessary. This is from the same President who said during his inauguration speech that the choice between safety and our ideals is a false one. Apparently he changed his mind.
All that being said, I am totally on board with the President's mission of changing the tone of Washington. He has tried time and time again to reach out to the opposition. He has made so many concessions that some of his supporters have doubted his conviction to progressive ideals. I never have (okay, I may have wavered a bit during the health care debate). Despite all of the in fighting and political horse trading that has gone on during this administration, I always felt that the President was at least speaking truthfully or as truthfully as he could, to the American people. This week, however, I believe that he has crossed the line. In speaking about the continued NATO action in Libya, he said that US would always intervene when it saw the leader of a country harming it's own citizens (I'm paraphrasing here, but that was the general sentiment). I know, he knows and the American people know that is a crock of shit. There are multiple regimes that we support (particularly those with oil), who do great harm to their own citizens and we don't so much as bat an eye in protest. In fact we support those countries with our dollars and our weapons. We did the same for Qaddafi only a few short months ago, until he apparently turned into the worst person in the world.
This is by no means a renunciation of my support for this President or his administration. I am very satisfied with the many things that he has been able to accomplish in the face of historic opposition. He has survived unsubstantiated attacks against his family, his citizenship, his academic record, his patriotism, his religious beliefs, etc. to forge a very impressive record of accomplishments. I stand by him and stand ready to support him in the next election. What I am saying is that I'm disappointed. Not by the lack of action on my pet issues, but that this President who I hold in such high regard, would speak to us, would speak to me as if I were a child with no understanding of the world.
I always thought that President Obama did us the courtesy of speaking to us as if we were adults. I appreciated that after having to listen to the jingoistic patriotism that was spewed out at us by the previous administration. It didn't always come across as exciting or sound bite worthy, but it was the truth (or as much truth as could be shared). We all know that we are not the world's morality police. We can't afford to be and frankly we are no position to foist our views of morality on anyone. But when we decide to target a particular leader for removal based on strategic considerations, I would appreciate it if the President would show us the courtesy of being upfront about it. We have no moral basis for intervening in Libya. There was no genocide going on. What we did was get in the middle of civil war because it served the strategic goals of us and our allies. I know politicians think that we are pretty stupid (and given our willingness to be convinced of almost anything I can understand why). However, part of the change message that I bought into was that we were now going to be treated like adults. Stupid adults maybe, but adults nonetheless. Up until now I thought the President was doing a pretty good job of that. I can only hope that this is just a misstep and not a sign of things to come.