I actually tend to agree with that assessment, particularly after the long-lambasted pre-election reversal on retroactive immunity for illegal domestic spying by the telecommunications companies at the request of Mr. Bush's White House. But, as Mr. Greenwald asks:
I've been reading many arguments from Obama supporters over the last couple of weeks insisting that Obama can't possibly give civilian trials to all Terrorism suspects because having to free detainees whom they can't convict in court would be politically catastrophic; but doesn't that same reasoning justify Bush's decision to open Guantanamo and hold terrorist suspects without charges? After all, how could Bush afford to risk acquittals any more than Obama? [And] doesn't that mean that Bush and Cheney got a bad rap all these years for their so-called "Constitution-shredding," and that the ultimate responsibility for their abuses lies not with Bush, Cheney David Addington and John Yoo, but rather with Tom Daschle, Bill Frist, Harry Reid, Denny Hastert and Nancy Pelosi? ...Long-time readers here may note that I have been particularly critical of Mr. Reid.
I could understand and accept a lot more easily this blithe acquiescence to Obama's record if it weren't for the fact that progressives and Democrats spent so many years screaming bloody murder over Bush's use of indefinite detention, military commissions, state secrets, renditions, and extreme secrecy -- policies Obama has largely and/or completely adopted as his own. One can't help but wonder, at least in some cases, how genuine those objections were, as opposed to their just having been effective tools to discredit a Republican president for partisan and political gain.
I don't expect good answers on this from Obama supporters, but, well, the questions are obviously valid.
While we're on this topic, we have this little tidbit out over the holiday; it appears that Mr. Obama ordered the Office of Personnel Management not to comply with a Federal court order because that order would have required medical benefits for the wife of a lesbian employed by the Federal courts. As longtime readers may recall, I spent a lot of time lambasting Mr. Bush's administration for refusing to comply with legal decisions and court orders; this is Mr. Obama adopting Mr. Bush's contempt for the judiciary yet again.
It's particularly galling to me, of course, because not only is it another defiance of the court system and another broken campaign promise, but it's also yet another administration attack against GBLT rights being fought in the courts. And also because the head of OPM is one of the few openly-gay members of the Obama administration. Michelangelo Signorile at The Gist asks, "Is this how openly gay appointees must operate within the Obama administration -- not as advocates on behalf of civil rights but rather as lackeys charged with blocking equal rights for their own kind? That, if true, is enormously troubling."
In this way, Mr. Obama's administration is acting no differently than that of Mr. Bush. Yes, yes, believe me, I know, DOMA and Mr. Obama's enthusiastic defences of it in court; but the judge knew that too, and issued the order in full consideration of DOMA, and under the auspices of the broader Federal Health Benefits Act, which discusses family in general, not just married couples, according to the judge. The Obama administration reaction will be interesting; they have 30 days to respond again.