Obama Frustration

Categories: Government, Politics
Comments: 12 Comments
Published on: 2013.08.10

I made no secret of my support for Barack Obama leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election, and I stand by everything I’ve said on this blog. Note two things though: (1) I was supporting Obama against Mitt Romney, and (2) I criticized Obama before the election as well.

I still think Obama is a better president than Romney would have been, though of course there’s no way to prove that — even electing Romney now wouldn’t be the same as electing him then. (And my liberal friends will hate me for it, but I still think George the W was a better president than Al Gore would have been.)

But, like many moderates — and a few liberals — I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with Obama in his second term.

Most of the time, I’m not frustrated with his ideas or policies — it’s just that he’s had little success in getting some of them past a divided Congress. It didn’t help that some leading Senators made it their primary goal to unseat and oppose Obama. Remember when Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president”? Of course, he later clarified: “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.” But he and his fellows continued to make every effort to set up Obama for failure.

Yes, that’s frustrating, but it doesn’t take away from Obama in my opinion. At some point, future historians will make a determination about whether Obama failed because of his own shortcomings or whether he failed because of insurmountable obstacles.

But what does take away from Obama is his slippage from the high ideals he originally set forth. The most recent example was yesterday’s press conference focused on the NSA’s spying program. I don’t think it escaped anyone — left or right — that he spoke out of two sides of his mouth. What I got from it was (1) we’ll implement many of the changes that Edward Snowden wanted us to make, and (2) Snowden is a bad guy. How can both be true?

Obama attempted to emphasize that he’d called for changes before Snowden’s leaks, trying to say that all of his current proposals were his own ideas, formed long ago. Yet just two months ago, he said: “…when you actually look at the details [of the NSA program], then I think we’ve struck the right balance.” Later in June, to a Charlie Rose question about transparency, Obama responded: “It is transparent.”

And then yesterday, he said it needs to be more transparent. Well, Obama, which is it?

I did like this quote: “…it’s not enough for me as president to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well”, which shows that he at least understands the problem — something I’ve not been convinced of with many government leaders.

There have been other incidents and actions prior to this that gave me the same feeling, but frankly I haven’t made the time to write about them. What it all leads up to is a growing cynicism: it doesn’t matter who we send to the White House; they’ll turn out the vaguely the same in many ways.

While Obama can’t really hurt his own political path (there’s nowhere to go after being a two-term President, after all), I think he’s hurting his party. Remember, each party only wins the presidency by swaying middle-of-the-road voters; neither party can win it with their base alone. And middle-of-the-road voters shy away from stuff like this. Remember, I predicted last year that a Republican will win the presidency in 2016.

12 Comments
  1. >>my liberal friends will hate me for it, but I still think George the W was a better president than Al Gore would have been<<

    I don't hate you for having an opinion. I'm not a YouTube troll.

    My opinion of George W., however, is that in the end, he will go down as one of the worst Presidents in history. The completely pointless and immoral war in Iraq was enough to seal his fate.

  2. Wil C. Fry says:

    Fair enough. And to be completely honest, I should have said “liberal friend” (singular). :-)

  3. “How can both be true?”

    I don’t follow. Are you saying that if we didn’t institute ‘Snowden’s’ changes, we could call him a bad guy but because we did, we can’t? Or are you saying that breaking an oath, running to the press and fleeing the country is a patriotic way to instigate changes?

    What I really don’t get is how anyone could be so naive as to think that anything involving the internet could be considered private. The NSA ~can~ do everything imagined by any good paranoid, and my car ~can~ go 110mph. Both facts are totally meaningless.

  4. Wil C. Fry says:

    “I don’t follow. Are you saying that…”

    I’m asking how it could be true — according to Obama — that Snowden did the wrong thing AND that he was right.

    If Snowden was wrong, then Obama doesn’t need to make any changes, doesn’t need to rein in the NSA, doesn’t need to make it more transparent, and doesn’t need to even have this press conference. If all these changes DO need to made — according to Obama — then Snowden was right to bring it to our attention.

    “Or are you saying that breaking an oath, running to the press and fleeing the country is a patriotic way to instigate changes?”

    Yes, if necessary. Almost all the founders of our country agreed that when one government becomes overbearing, then sometimes drastic measures are required. In their case, they created an entirely new government. They were (of course) branded traitors.

    At least in Snowden’s case, it appears he was not attempting to overthrow our government, but to make it better.

    “The NSA ~can~ do everything imagined by any good paranoid, and my car ~can~ go 110mph. Both facts are totally meaningless.”

    The huge difference is that neither your car nor its driver have any legal authority to do so, and no government official will back you on it. Driving 110 mph (or 130 mph in my case) can certainly land you in jail — I speak from personal experience. Whereas the NSA’s actions have been defended as completely legal.

  5. I’ll only ask that you reconsider my last point. Just because my car can go 110mph doesn’t mean it ever will. Just because the NSA can listen in to your every digital conversation doesn’t mean they do. And what I know that they do with watching my call patterns and all, I’m fine with. I don’t even see it as ‘abusive’ as it’s been labelled. It’s just another form of a cop on a beat watching out for us.

  6. Wil C. Fry says:

    “Just because the NSA can listen in to your every digital conversation doesn’t mean they do”

    This may have been where our misunderstanding arose. I’m under the impression that they DO actually do this, despite repeated denials. My impression comes from multiple news stories from relatively reliable outlets… Here’s an example, which I cited a couple of months ago.

  7. I think you need to read your own citation. It’s filled with ‘can’ and ‘could’ and a few ‘may’ and ‘might’s and even a ‘would be able to’ but no ‘do’s. Which goes back exactly to my point.

  8. Wil C. Fry says:

    “I think you need to read your own citation”

    You can assume I read it before I cited it. ;-)

    If I may refer to my comment in the other conversation: “However, for me, it’s much more important that the government be held accountable by its citizens…”

    If an NSA staffer can, and could, and may, and might, and (apparently) has legal authorization from the Justice Department to go ahead, AND the citizenry can never know whether they’ve done it, then they’re not accountable — and they should be in my view.

    Again, “my view” is based on the premise that governments should (and do) derive their powers and indeed their very existence from the people and can only operate at our whim. Anyone who does not agree with this premise will often disagree with me about the rightness/wrongness of certain government activities.

  9. Allow me to change the venue and see if you agree…

    If an man can, and could, and may, and might, and (apparently) has a willing partner, AND the wife can never know whether they’ve done it, then they’re not accountable.

    The point here is that you can only be accountable for what you do..not what you can,could,may,might,would…

  10. Wil C. Fry says:

    Not related. Husbands and wives are (should be) equal partners. Citizens and governments are not (should not be) equal partners.

    “The point here is that…”

    That’s way down a tangent road, and not the point at all. If your point is that you think the NSA program and others like it are just fine, then you’ve made that point. I’m curious as to where you think this is going? Or did you just need to vent?

  11. I can keep going if you want but I don’t want you to think that I’m just trying to piss you off. And I’m not trying to vent. Quite the opposite. I’m a little frustrated.
    My point is and has been that the capability to do something does not equate to actually doing it. You cannot have accountability for a potential action but only for an actual act.
    I see this as central to your frustration with Obama, Snowden and the NSA, and how the press is reporting it. But you only see it as tangential.

  12. Wil C. Fry says:

    “I don’t want you to think that I’m just trying to piss you off”

    :-) I was beginning to wonder.

    “You cannot have accountability for a potential action but only for an actual act.”

    I disagree, but that’s moot since we don’t know if they’ve committed the actual act because they’re not accountable.

    By the way, my reading of the article is different than yours. In any other context, the cans and mights and permissions would mean that it takes place fairly regularly. “My mechanics can test your brakes if they see something amiss”, for example. The “can” doesn’t mean “has the ability to”, but it means “has the authority/permission to”.

    Not that the owner of a mechanic shop would use the word “amiss”.

    Me: “Do your painters sand rough edges and fill in holes?”
    Contractor: “They have permission to do so if they see fit.”

    It means they do it regularly, when they want to.

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