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Jon Stewart on Obama's civil liberties record

vastleft's picture

"The Daily Show" assembled a surprisingly hard-hitting collection of clips documenting some of Obama's assaults on civil liberties.

It's a pretty damning dossier, but how does the segment end (after leavening concern about Obama's American-citizen assassination program by saying its first publicly announced target is "a bad guy")?

Stewart says that Obama "is not a bad person" (apparently ordering assassinations, renditions, and indefinite imprisonment void of all due process doesn't count against him)... and besides -- for the non-sequitur clincher -- he's being "stalked" by the "strange and twisted" Sarah Palin.

See, our tribe is just fine! Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Yes, it's just a comedy show. And also, it's no doubt the high water mark for how much truth most "progressives" have been exposed to on this issue, so kudos for TDS for presenting this information, however belatedly.

But it remains a sad affair that this rare burst of (some) straight stuff has to be couched with gratuitous signals that our tribe is the good tribe, no matter what. Truly, no matter what.

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mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

He compared him to freaking Frodo! Give me a break! Obama's no hobbit for crissakes.

The Obama folks are going to drag their feet toward criticizing Obama until it truely doesn't matter anymore. They are so invested in him. They pinned their hopes on him, and staked their reputaions on him. I just don't see where they just ever go full throttle with an articulate criticism, though Stewart is probably as close as we will see for some time.

Look at Robert Recih. For months he has basically disagreed with every single initiatve out of this WH and yet even as he called the speech last night "vapid" and was once again disappointed in the President, he stills considers himself a "fan of Barack Obama".

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

as I know you know. If they were going to judge him on what he actually did, they would have never liked him in the first place. So what he does now will not change their affection for him.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Obama isn't Frodo.

Obama is Treebeard. "Hoom, hoom, let's not be hasty."

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

We need to "stand with" Obama and "help Obama be Obama"! Sign our petition and thank our pwogwessive "heroes"! Do you really want those Tea Party Denny's patrons running the country?

dblhelix's picture
Submitted by dblhelix on

how long until "Look over there! It's Nikki Haley walking into Denny's. "

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

Sheheen (the FKDP) is the Serious™ candidate--he'll "create" jobs by throwing money no-strings at multinational corporations, give us "choice" and "competition" with our public schools, etc. I'm sure Maddow and Obot-mann and Stewart will be telling us in short order how Nikki Haley forced Leader to privatize Social Security. As far as the Haley-Barrett runoff, it seems as though lots of people are taking into account Barrett's TARP vote. Good sign? One can hope™! Look over there! Alvin Greene--a Republican plant!

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

in his first debate with Mondale. His senility, though hidden from the public, was advanced. Lesley Stahl came to interview him at the end of his first term and found him incoherent. He didn't know that he was president. He didn't know he was in the Oval Office. And he didn't know who she was, even though she'd interviewed him several times. So in that first debate, in Tony Coelho's immortal words, "he did everything but drool". It was clear he was two tacos short of a full combo plate.

So, in preparation for the next debate, they held a big rally beforehand with lots of people cheering and calling his name. Her performed moderately better and got off a joke line about Mondale's youth that won him the debate. That rally served to focus his attention so that he was his normal dotty self rather than an uncomprehending version of his dotty self.

The point of all this being - that was a Reagan campaign line. Let Reagan be Reagan. That's why they held the rally so that he could be Reagan in the debate.

It's really creepy how much Reaganalia has been transplanted to Obama.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I have been conned by obama apologists that he really was center and we all should have known it even prior to the election. It is a real talking point among them. Then to see Stewart's footage... Holy sh*t. I am glad it was out there!!! That memory hole can be profound.

It made me all the more sobered to Obama's craven manipulation.

Axelrod still the down to earth average joe face of Obama .. shows up on Meet the Press. Yes, lets use the air time for pr handlers. God forbid we address the real crises going on. Lets get a nice seemingly ordinary guy to offer rationalizations.

Michael Tomasky at Guardian burns me -- he is continually seducing international readers especially Brits to Obama's great leadership. I said recently he and David Brooks should get together and open up their own kool-aid stand.

Thom Hartman, thank God, after Obama's speech called him out. Said transnational corporations have put an ice pick into the heart of Mother Nature!

Jon Stewart about Afghanistan and minerals warned Afghanistan that "the free ride to rubble town was over" (what wit!), this after one Fox News commentator said Afghanistan could "begin to pay for the war finally." As if the Afghans owed the US big time for this war. Oy vey.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

("Center" is, of course, a euphemism for "far to the right of Nixon.")

These included:

* Invoking religion so much, he made Mike Huckabee look like Richard Dawkins
* Fluffing the mythical Social Security "crisis"
* Making expanding the military one of his most concrete campaign promises
* Voting to retroactively legalize warrantless wiretapping
* Whipping votes for TARP (a more corporatist position than most Republicans)
* Playing footsie with every energy lobby you can name (including nuke, ethanol, and "clean coal")
* And most of all, in a sea-change year, making the cornerstone of his campaign the re-legitimizing of the thoroughly discredited Republican Party as a valuable partner in governance, Reagan's "Party of Ideas'" he called them.

But back then, despite all this, the line was that he had, as Lakoff claimed, "a deeply progressive vision," that he was the antidote to evil DLC Third Way politics.

Where were these folks when we were decrying Obama's untimely "centrism"?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I would also include rightwing on social justice issues:

* running around the South with an anti-gay, formerly gay gospel singer and hanging with famously anti-gay ministers like Rick Warren, and let's not forget the horrible showing on Prop 8:

* saying that he favored "conscience clauses" on abortion, that the decision to have an abortion was between a woman, her doctor, the father and her pastor, and that he didn't believe in late-term abortion exceptions "just because a woman is feeling blue."

I suppose the way that Obama courted liberals, was by hypocritically slamming the other candidates for their AUMF votes. And, by referring to his skin color every chance he got.

There's something about him that people find very seductive, though. I don't know if it's hypnotic speech patterns or the fact that a guy who doesn't want you is sometimes more attractive than a guy/girl who does, or some other reason. But man, even my husband fell into it while watching his speech. His head started nodding and he started saying "That's right!" This is a guy who can't stand Obama.

I wonder if we'll ever understand the Obama effect? I hope so, so we can all be prepared next time.

Submitted by lambert on

... of con artists. It would be interesting to deconstruct how it's done.

Do you remember any specifics? Like when the head nodding started?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

where Obama started to speak about getting onto clean energy and away from our oil addiction.

For some reason, the fact that Obama kept saying "WE" have to do this didn't faze him. I finally burst out "Who is WE? YOU have to do it, Mr. President!"

Maybe the "we" makes people feel more empowered, responsible, included? (It just made me furious because I knew that no policy details or plans were going to follow. And sure enough, the only thing "we" were supposed to do about this was to support his POS energy bill.)

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

certainly more so than Hillary Clinton, by the positions he toook and the things he said during the campaign. But I don't buy that the apologists saw it at all.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... and couldn't be bothered to push back on it (and him), is a measurement of how little real concern they have for left-oriented policy.

Edgeoforever's picture
Submitted by Edgeoforever on

That was a good comparison. It's what "teflon" is made of - the villagers unwillingness to let criticism stick.
They had decided that Obama was the new Reagan when they decided to front him - and this will go on until he'll be too compromised to adhere to teflon. he's getting there.
Like W eventually did - they had tried to teflonize him too, but towards the end hung him pretty much dry. (not as much as he deserved, but he stopped being fearless leader)
Thanks for pointing out what Stewart's excellent expose missed. I felt it but couldn't quite identify it.

Submitted by Anne on

because they simply don’t see it as changing anything about their own lives: they still feel free to move about at will, most aren’t “interacting” with authority figures like police and government agents, most don’t stop to wonder if someone else is reading their e-mails or tracking their computer habits, they believe in the if-you’re-not-doing-anything-“wrong”-you-have-nothing-to-worry-about mantra, don’t see themselves as likely to be the target of anyone’s particular interest, so all of this erosion of civil liberties is an abstraction to them. These things happen to “other people,” and despite a couple centuries of innocent-until-proven-guilty, more than a few subscribe to the theory that someone wouldn’t have been arrested or detained unless there was a reason.

I’ve given up trying to figure out what it is that people see in Obama. I’m clearly missing whatever gene is required to hear heavenly music and see heavenly auras whenever and wherever the man appears and speaks; I clench: jaw, stomach, sometimes fists. Sometimes I actually growl. It’s visceral. Animals know when danger is present, they sense “bad,” so maybe I am not as evolved as I thought.

As for the whole “progressive” thing; ugh, it just makes me gag.

Lately, when I hear people start talking about how Obama is so progressive and ?ber liberal, I just flat out ask them: “what makes Obama a progressive?” “What has Obama done that brands him a liberal?” And when they try to define him in terms of “the other guys,” I will say, “no, I’m not asking you to compare Obama to anyone else – I’m just interested in hearing about those ideas or actions or policies from Obama that you see as progressive.” Well, I am often told, there’s health care. Oh, really? Huh. When did requiring people to buy something from a private corporation become a progressive idea? Oh, but, everyone will have health care! Really? How does renting a health insurance policy equate to having actual care? Well, but, but…the government is going to help people pay for it. All of it? Well, no. So, what if you can’t afford the premiums even with help – how does that get you any closer to getting, you know, actual care? Well…uh…okay, but the Republicans don’t want the government in health care at all! Sarah Palin!

Reproductive rights? Obama believes in the right to choose! Really? Then why do you think he’s always saying that women need the advice of others to make that choice? Well, it just makes sense that a woman would want to discuss it with the people in her life – that’s not wrong. No one says it’s wrong for women to discuss their decisions with others, but when have you ever heard Obama say that it’s the woman’s choice – period? Oh, he’s said it. Yes, and it’s almost always followed by the list of people he thinks women should be talking to before they make that decision; did you hear Obama objecting to the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the health care debate? Um, no. Well, don’t you think someone who truly believed in women’s reproductive freedom would have – should have – come out in opposition to that language? But, he HAD to accept that amendment, or the bill wouldn’t have passed! So, you’re saying that his beliefs are more political than personal, and when it benefits him, he’s willing to discard them? Oh, I’m sure he still believes in the right to choose. But not enough to use the power of his office to fight for it, huh? How progressive is that? But, what about the teabaggers? We can’t let them get control! Sarah Palin!

There is almost nothing that people can point to as progressive or liberal about Obama, and when you point out to them that even in comparison to the other guys, he’s more like them than he is different from them, they still cannot or will not let go of the progressive fiction.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I have to think they might be unreachable.

As Libby has said, it's all about empathy, and the lack thereof. People who lack empathy can't be reached via reason, logic or even emotion. They have to be directly affected AND be able to connect the dots between the effect and the cause, in order to truly understand what it happening.

That's my theory, anyway.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

For actually compiling that and indicting Obama on his abysmal executive power record right in the face of his OFB audience.

The ending? Stewart's a comedian. He has to make a joke, folks. As Bill Hicks put it (during, say, a brutal indictment of capitalism), "Don't worry, folks, there are dick jokes coming later."

(Yes, I know Stewart is no Bill Hicks, and I'm sure Stewart would agree.)

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

And I watched Stewart diligently throughout the Bush admin, is that Stewart attributed genuine "nice guy" motives to Bush(though not Cheney, heh) everytime Bush did something atrocious too, so I don't necessarily see that Stewart is going above and beyond to do some tribalism. I see him as carrying on towards Obama, the same way he did towards Bush.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

To assure us Obama's not so bad. It's only funny if "but Palin is worse" resonates with you. She has nothing to do with the premise, it's just lame comfort food for those who crave it as a respite from looking into the Obama abyss.

It's not good comedy and even worse satire, and it surely was added to blunt the impact of the bad news.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

But he was playing to his audience and he hadto make a joke there, period. That bit had to end with a joke, it wasn't optional.

You expect too much from him. He's a comedian, he's there to make people laugh. If he gets them to think a little too, that's great but not required.

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

Stewart was just helping his bro out (shirtless beer pong, dude!) by bashing teh wimmenz. I'll eat crow if he draws parallels b/w Leader and Bush on social security privatization ([one of] the reason[s] for the fortification of the police state?). But it'll be Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann's fault! If Stewart really wasn't *still* OFB, he try to shatter the tribal formations of his audience and eschew the tea party diversion (linking tea party leadership and pwogwessive policy agenda together as identical--that is worthwhile...the rest is garbage).

NOTE: Same for Bill Maher. He also makes the assumption that pwogwessives have no agency; Obama is just too nice and that there's an abundance of racist Blue Dogs and Tea Partiers. We need to help O be O, dude! Thank goodness i don't have cable!

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Edwards was so much an underdog, and keeping hope alive for his campaign was consuming.

Edwards has made it hard for us to defend ourselves today... But his call to populism and his hard talking anti-corporation talking points clearly were the answer. Just cause he wasn't up to carrying through with this WAR doesn't mean this is the WAR that must not be fought, against the corporations and cronyism... principle over personality on this theme and this message as key to the only salvation of the US.

Edwards' constant and specific talking points were about the growing underclass of America and the need for URGENT REGULATION specifically. He had written up a blueprint for progress on his blog where he got specific about the MMS and agencies like that. It was ready for implementation. He had done his homework. (Watching Obama on that creepy speech ... he doesn't even know what homework to do still)

I was hoping either Obama or Hillary would use that Edwards 2-Americas blueprint, steal it right off his blog when either of them won. Then Obama turned out Manchurian candidate. Yes, my gut told me Obama was not sincere, was no reformer but he conned me about ending the war ... and it must have been hard to see the sleaze with Obama and working for Hillary, those of you who did had a real crazymaking early opportunity to see the Obama sham.

I am not defending Edwards. He has to live with what he sacrificed, and I see how that kind of platform had to be snuffed out, had not even a snowball's chance in hell in our corrupt corporate political media culture, by the big psychopathic corporate guns, but we who were working for Edwards believed in that message. And recognized that we needed a candidate to take the power away from the psychopathic corporations. And Bill Clinton's cronyism and being part of the corrupt political culture made me steer away from Hillary, too, and I know that was probably not fair, but they were a political team in many ways. Ironically, I wanted BIGGER change from Bush than the Clinton orbit and look what I got, lesser change. Obama neutralized the anti-Bush, anti-WAR, anti-gutting the constitution rage in this country. We'll never know what Hillary would have done, I am sure not as bad as Obama, too, but she is enabling now. Big time. If you can't lick em join em, but I say if you are not in the solution you are contributing to the problem. Obama regime is evil. Appearance is everything to Obama, appearing not to be a puppet when he is, and will use his only power and control for protection of his ego and as he is now, going zealously after the messengers and working on coverups. The egoism that causes millions to die. And those with true character to be targeted zealously. Style not substance. Impression management uber alles. As Vietnam could not be called out a disaster. Mission creep for ego.

So right now I am defending the people and myself who embraced Edwards' populist anti-corporate platform. Edwards was able to blueprint the vision, but was not the leader to push it through. Tragically.

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

"If you give [corporations/the oligarchy] a seat at the table, they'll eat all the food."

Also relevant to the cat food commission, when responding to a question re: deficits at his first event in Columbia, SC (right after Christmas 2006), he responded "I have other priorities." His response (and my support) was probably grounded in Keynesianism (deficit spending is necessary in econ. downturns), but i'm convinced he and possibly HRC would've been open to MMT (no need to ever "balance budgets," even in non-recession periods--b/c the currency can always be printed to generate more money via full & productive employment?). Deficits don't matter--by my reckoning, he was the only candidate that went in this direction (incl. Kucinich?).

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I remember doing a write up about this (the website has since been taken down) and when I looked into Edwards' supposed poverty center back in 2007, it had not held a single event months and months after it was "opened" to much fanfare. He also didn't follow through on getting young people to volunteer throughout the country. I remember because I reached out to his group on this (back when I was, ya know, an appointed officer of the CDA). I had an early initial response from a guy who was gung ho, but he left shortly thereafter. (Wonder why?) This bothered me to no end because engaging young people and poverty is my political raison d'etre and despite his big words, he didn't follow through.

I don't mind Edwards' populist message, but the guy was all show much the same way Obama is. This matters to me because words are cheap. Anyone can say nice things. Its actually doing shit that matters, and Edwards brief record as Senator was very little like what he campaigned on. To me, Edwards' candidacy is in the same vein as Obama's, an orchestrated circus show. He knew his scandal would come out during a general--or if it went down to just him or Obama, so its hard to imagine that he was anything more than a way to take out Hillary in Iowa (and his actions in MI make it even clearer).

With Hillary, you know she is willing to go to the mat for women's rights, health care and children. You also knew where she stood on foreign affairs even if you didn't like it (Edwards position on AUMF was pure show, Hillary's--even if you didn't like it--was principled). She was the most honest person running and honesty is vital. You can't trust a liar and we have to really start taking a person's history into account. I really doubt Edwards would have done anything differently than Obama. Give me evidence in his *record* where he was courageous and maybe I'll believe. Until then, its worth evaluating whether we should put trust in a smooth talker, even if he says what we like.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

remoteness of the supposed leader as the campaign wore on but was looking for an answer ... "you are just too good to be true" ... that old song playing in background of both Edwards ... and later Obama. Though people recognized the focus of Edwards aligned with their moral values and that it motivated them was good despite being ultimately thwarted. I hoped Edwards was a sadder but wiser elected official, embracing humanity.

But who is delivering the message and background info? I am a sadder but hopefully somewhat wiser campaigner ... harder to be sold on. And more cynical and despairing.

Ego, showmanship, razzle dazzle. Hype. Oprah got in there to mass manipulate, too, for BO. She helped out Bush, too, when he ran against Gore. We got to see the "have a drink with him" amiable side as he sat there charming America and Oprah. Obama, have a latte with him or merlot. And gamesmanship all the way. The plight of humanity not an issue, just say anything talking points collected by handlers from polling. Like the candidates were spoiled overattended wealthy brides obsessed with the wedding (election), forget the subsequent challenges and needs of the marriage (4 years of demanding governance).

As for Hillary ... I am not there. Sorry. Maybe she is valiantly working from the inside, in the belly of the beast. But that beast for you to politically survive at this point in time eats your soul. The kool-aid is bloody. Obama really swilling it now. Clinton in that circle of war criminals.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Obama negotiating with corporations is like expecting love from a psychopath.

They say unrecovered codependents are sicker than unrecovered addicts.

This nation was sick enough to allow GW Bush to rule 2 terms.

Now we get the glacially incremental Obama who I guess got to be Prez so he could put it on his resume, for heaven's sake. Clueless as to a mission for reform that is so long overdue already.

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

I agree with the comment about Edwards actions (louder than words, yes, i know), but his intensely populist message gave me hope™ for the FKDP. I have to admit I was not receptive to HRC during 2007, but she grew on me after JRE dropped out (first out of necessity, with O being the coronated-wonderboi-in-waiting and all; then as inherently competent and as leftist as could be expected--actually discussing the role of PMFs in dictating foreign policy, as opposed to O with his hallmark card teleprompted grandiloquence--I finally opened my eyes). Admittedly, my disdain had to do with her husband (which I know there are credible arguments in defense), but with NAFTA, welfare reform™, and Gramm-Bliley-Leach under his leadership, I cannot in good conscience support that (veto pens can come in handy!). It was very immature of me to link HRC to WJC, but I did--and only if I could go back... But talking about the interests that control this country (and the world) as Edwards did is something that will never ever happen again in the FKDP. Instead, someone's leftist bonafides is/will be determined by how much they can bash Sarah Palin, teh evil wimmenz, and tea partiers (thanxx, pwogwessive "hero," Alan Grayson!). Elizabeth Edwards was key to his policy proposals (a policy book instead of a hope™ hallmark card!), so what he did to her, and the credibility/psychological issues preclude/d him from future consideration. But how i would like to see a politician actually discuss how parasite interests come to the table and eat all the food! Again, that won't ever happen in the FKDP. Actually, we won't see that, i'm afraid, until after the collapse.