Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cenk Uygur slams liberal hypocrites on Bush vs. Obama

| »

A recent poll shows the sadly obvious: A large number of the same liberals who accused the Bush administration of shredding the Constitution with its heavy-handed war-mongering and counter-terrorism measures are now cheering on the Obama administration as it continues to carry out the exact same policies, sometimes even escalating the violence. Glenn Greenwald has his usually gripping take over at Salon, and meanwhile, here’s Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks ripping into these progressive hypocrites:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

CENK UYGUR: The Washington Post/ABC News has a new poll out: “Are you in favor of some of the civil liberties abuses that were happening under Bush and, unfortunately, are continuing to happen under Obama?” And the overall numbers are not interesting. What’s interesting is what Democrats and liberal Democrats answer to these questions. ’Cause remember, they were wildly opposed to these things under Bush.

For example, keeping Guantanamo open: 53% of self-identified liberal Democrats and 67% of moderate or conservative Democrats say that they would like to keep Guantanamo open and they think it’s the right policy.

Now, how does that make any sense? These are the same guys who, under Bush, were saying, “Gah, no, I can’t believe you’re keeping Guantanamo open!” In fact, President Obama, one of his central planks was that he was gonna stop these civil liberties abuses and he was gonna close Guantanamo. Now, to be fair to President Obama, he tried in the beginning, but then, when the Republicans resisted, as usual, he gave up. And when he did, apparently, Democrats and even 53% of “liberal” Democrats said, “Well, okay if President Obama’s in favor of it, then forget it, I’m not gonna think about it anymore.” Independent thought flies out the door. “What does the leader say? The leader says Guantanamo should remain open? Okay, then I’m in favor of that.” That’s pathetic.

How about the use of drones? Well, 77% of Democrats think that using drones is a good idea. Now, I don’t know what they polled on that during the Bush era, and that’s an open question; it’s a little bit more nuanced. But what I don’t think is nuanced is the idea of drone strikes on American citizens without due process.

Now, remember, we told you, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who had no problem trampling on our civil liberties, the guy who spearheaded the warrantless wiretapping program, said the other day, “Hey, it was funny, ’cause Awlaki – we had to get a court order to make sure that we could listen in on his communications, but we didn’t need to get a court order to execute him.”

Now, if Bush had been executing U.S. citizens abroad without any due process, my guess is liberals would’ve flipped out. I would’ve flipped out. I think it’s a terrible idea. I’m flipping out now! And I’ve done story after story, saying what a bad idea it is.

Well, Democrats approve of drone strikes on American citizens by a 58 to 33 margin. Even liberals, so-called liberals, approve of the strikes 55 to 35. On U.S. citizens, with no trial, no indictment, no due process. They don’t even tell us why they executed the guys; they just generally say in press conferences, “Oh, he was a bad guy; oh, boy, did he work with al-Qaeda!” What are the specifics? “State secrets. Can’t tell you.” It’s pathetic, man.

So, this was supposed to be about principles. It was supposed to be a country of laws. But unfortunately, so many people play Team Democrat, Team Republican, and if you’re leader says that you’re going in this direction, all principles gets[sic] washed out the door. Did the Republicans do that under Bush? Absolutely, over and over again. And so many of Bush’s policies weren’t even conservative. It didn’t matter. The overspending, the blowing up the deficit, they didn’t care; they’re like, [bowing] “Bush! Bush! Bush!”

And now, unfortunately, so many liberals are doing the same thing with Obama. And then, they’ll go further. “How DARE you criticize Obama? Don’t you know he’s our dear and great leader? You know he once bowled a 300?” Oh, right, that’s the North Korean leader.

That sounds harsh, right? Well, why don’t you think for yourself, then? Why would any liberal who cares about civil liberties be in favor of drone strikes that kill U.S. citizens without any due process? You understand what that means? You trust Obama, ’cause he’s your dear leader, that he’s executing the right guys. What happens when Newt Gingrich is in office? And he says, “Well, ah, you were abroad? I dunno. There was no due process, I didn’t have to go to court, I didn’t have to prove it to anybody. I didn’t even have to reveal my reasons why. I executed you. So what? What you gonna do about it? Well, it’s okay, you agreed to it under Obama.” Terrible, terrible.

And one final note on this is by Glenn Greenwald. It’s about bipartisan consensus, and I think he nails it, there. He says: “One of the most consequential aspects of the Obama legacy is that he has transformed what was once known as ‘right-wing shredding of the Constitution’ into bipartisan consensus.” I think he’s absolutely right about this.

So, it’s one thing when a Republican president abuses these civil liberties and tramples on the Constitution. Then, at least, Democrats, progressives, liberals fight against it. It’s another thing when a Democratic president comes in and says, “No no no, it’s okay, that’s how we do business now. Due process is irrelevant. The Fourth and the Fifth Amendments are gone, they don’t apply anymore.” And Washington all agrees, and they all high-five each other, and they say, “Yes, absolutely! We’ve shredded the Constitution! We all agree.”

And when Democrats and liberals and progressives go along with this, well then it’s over. You’ve done more damage, because now you can’t even question it, and if you question it, you become an extreme fringe guy, and everybody in the mainstream media goes, “Ho-ho, you must be so extreme! The Democrats and the Republicans have agreed to this already! Obviously the Fourth and Fifth Amendments are no longer part of the Constitution. Obviously we can execute U.S. citizens abroad, and let alone all the other citizens of the world. And we don’t even talk about those guys. Those guys can obviously be executed with no due process whatsoever, and we can detain them indefinitely at Guantanamo.”

Us being a beacon of human rights to the world and the right example, the shining city on the hill? It’s gone. The lights are turned out, and the Democrats and Republicans both agreed to it.

While I personally find the vague allusion to Kim Jong-il to be a bit strong, his point is absolutely undeniable: Too many liberals who claim to be all for civil liberties are only too eager to forget about them the second the purportedly liberal Commander-in-Chief says they no longer apply. What’s wrong under one President is wrong under any, regardless of whether their name is followed by an ‘(R)’ or a ‘(D)’. Anyone who attacked President Bush for the way he waged war in Iraq and Afghanistan and integrated the police and surveillance state in the U.S. under the guise of protecting “national security”, but now supports President Obama for doing the exact same things, is little more than an unmitigated hypocrite.

(via @ggreenwald)