Thursday, April 15, 2010

Something to Support about the Obama Administration
Mike Rappaport

With President Obama's Administration doing so many horrible things, from destroying private health insurance to spending public funds on its allies like a drunken sailor to its shabby treatment of American allies abroad, I have struggled to find something to like about these guys.  So far, I have not found anything significant. 

But the search appears to be over.  The Obama Administration is prosecuting an intelligence official who leaked classified information.  Bravo!  Really.  The Bush Administration seemed incapable of doing so, but Eric Holder appears to be on the case here.  See here and here

What adds to the accomplishment is that Obama Administration is likely to take some heat on this from the left.

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Mike Rappaport


Not so fast, Mike. The general rule is this: when a hardcore lefty like Obama does something sensible, it's one of these:

- a head fake to show false moderation before the next move left (e.g., announcing "openness" to offshore drilling, which will never get through all the red tape, but sets him up for the next re-brand of cap-and-tax)

- worse, an actual substantive change that is seemingly conservative but is a means to lefty ends.

I vote for the second option here. The CIA (and Pentagon etc.) leaked like a sieve in fighting Bush, and Obama knows it. Obama does not want any of his policies (e.g., blind eye to Iran's nukes) to be undercut by inconvenient intelligence leaks showing what he's winking at. Instilling the fear of prosecution is good for that.

Other "conservative" means to lefty ends are on the agenda, such as his new-found deficit concern (now that health care is passed), which is setting stage for VAT (not spending cuts).

Posted by: John Doe | Apr 16, 2010 10:13:54 AM


Going back to the "is Obama the most liberal president" comment from a few days ago, the reason I was genuinely surprised may be related to this post, which is that on counterterrorism policy, which is my main academic focus, there's not much daylight between Obama and Bush. (No waterboarding . . . no coercion . . . and . . . um . . . that's about it.) I gather you are focused on the domestic issues like health care reform and the like, on which I'll gladly defer to you.

Yet, it occurs to me as I type this comment, that on another front, Obama so far does not appear to be as liberal as Carter, and that would be federal judges. Carter didn't get to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, but judging from his appellate court nominees, if he had, it'd be someone considerably to the left of Sotomayor. I mean, just look at the Ninth Circuit nominees: Steve Reinhardt, Harry Pregerson, Betty Fletcher, Dorothy Nelson, Robert Boochever, Mary Schroeder . . . . Goodwin Liu seems pretty liberal, but I'm not sure he even compares to that group.

Posted by: Tung Yin | Apr 16, 2010 10:18:14 AM

Tung Yin: Thanks for your comments. It is true that Obama has been less liberal on international matters. But that this is true in some respects should not make us forget the other ways he has been very liberal (as, for example, I think we are seeing as to Israel). Yet, which Democrat Presidents were more liberal on international matters? -- not Johnson, not Kennedy, not Truman, not Roosevelt. Only Carter was probably more liberal, but he was much less liberal on domestic matters, so I still think Obama is considerably more liberal overall.

As to judges, I have not gone back and looked at Carter's appointments, but one has to avoid Cherry picking -- my sense is that he also appointed many moderate judges. And even if Carter could get away with liberal Ninth Circuit judges, it is not clear he could have appointed an equally liberal person to the Supremes. And I don't think we know yet how far left Sotomayor is.

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