By Ted Braun
The Obama presidency has been a source of great displeasure to many persons living in the South and especially to those drawn to the Tea Party persuasion. From the beginning, Obama had to overcome a racist effort to question the legitimacy of his birth credentials. Then members of Congress who reflected the views of both of these groups began making it hard for Obama to get new programs introduced and nominees for various governmental positions to be considered and accepted. It was their hope that he would turn out to be an unsuccessful president.
Recently, however, criticism of Obama has been coming out of a broader sector, based on comparing the different positions taken by Obama as candidate and as president.
As candidate, Obama criticized the Bush administration on issues of privacy and security. The Obama administration, however, has denied more Freedom of Information Act requests than Bush did and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined.
One interesting contrast is revealed in the following comparison: Candidate Obama said in referring to the Bush White House, “This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.” President Obama, in referring to the NSA and its surveillance program, said, “My assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help prevent terrorist attacks.”
Obama has also greatly expanded our nation’s deadly drone warfare program. For many years the United Nations Human Rights Council has been involved in determining civilian collateral damage from these attacks. Its conclusion from on the ground observations and interviews is that as many as 1,000 civilians, including up to 200 children, have been killed in these drone attacks. Obama has also been giving his signature to secret kill orders targeting individuals for assassination by drone.
Critics have also been disappointed that Obama provided too much continuity with the Bush administration in other ways: keeping Bush’s defense secretary and appointing an economic team that was especially friendly to Wall Street. By rejecting any consideration of punishment for the Bush administration’s lies for getting us involved in the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, and for Wall Street’s corrupt, illegal, and greedy activity that caused the economic meltdown, the Obama administration in essence provided permission for such official lying and financial activity to take place in future administrations.
Probably the most important lesson to learn from this “Obama drama” is that candidates, when they become presidents, become captive in many ways to America’s imperial power. As journalist Gary Younge wrote the day before Obama’s first inauguration, “He has been elected to represent the interests of the most powerful country in the world. Those will not be the same interests as those of the powerless.”
We may expect that the interests of our American military and economic leaders will continue to have a prevailing influence in our nation. But that does not preclude the importance of grass roots activity on behalf of the “arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice.”
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This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.