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We’ve devoted a lot of time lately toward highlighting the campaign hijinks of the Republican nominees — for good reason! — but this weekend we’re going to take a step back and think a bit more long term.
This turn was affected by a pair of timely circumstances. First:?During a discussion this week about the upcoming November presidential election, a pal made it clear that he wasn’t particularly enamored with President Obama; that he hoped for a change of leadership; and that he was unequivocally going to vote for a second Obama term.
This logical leap is a quirk of U.S. politics, where the two-party system ensures most people vote within the presumed cone of electability. If, as occurred most damagingly in 2000, a third-party vote ends up working in favor of the candidate one deems the less-acceptable of our two establishment evils, it is judged as having been wasted. Why, this dear friend asked, risk the election of a Romney or a Gingrich when we can rest safely in the dissatisfaction of another relatively-less-awful Obama term?
Which brings us to circumstance No. 2: The American Civil Liberties Union? this week filed a lawsuit against Obama administration agencies in an effort to learn the legal justification for the government’s policy of targeted assassinations of American citizens — including al Qaeda terrorist Anwar Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen.
(Note that the ACLU has not attempted to subvert this sort of killing, but merely to discover the legal basis for its use, including, according to an ACLU blog post, “the process by which the administration adds Americans to secret government ‘kill lists.’”)
Following drone strikes in fall 2011, the ACLU and others including The New York Times filed several Freedom of Information Act requests with the government, but to no avail. The Obama
administration, once hailed by the president’s press secretary as being “the most transparent ... ever,” is, in the ACLU’s words, treating the “targeted killing program [as] so secret that they can’t even acknowledge that it exists.”
To many, this will all seem quite acceptable. Mercilessly attacking and killing our sworn enemies is nothing but the mission statement of America in a post-9/11 world.
B ut a difficulty arises when the enemies we’re clandestinely killing happen to be U.S. citizens. There may be no more distressing executive overreach than the power of the president to secretly select and execute Americans with absolutely no judicial oversight. Couple this with the fact that the president routinely trots these killings out as evidence of his leadership in the war on terror and you’ve got a contradiction more stark than Romney following up his “I’m not concerned about the very poor”?gaffe with an endorsement from Donald Trump.
Sure, these issues could actually get worse under Republican leadership, but honestly how much worse could it get? Obama wants to have his cake and kill it, too: to campaign as a liberal, lead as a moderate and reign as a tyrant.
Follow Brayden Simms on Twitter @metropolitik