What if George W. Bush Had Done That?

Some critics say Bush would have taken a lot more heat for things Obama has done. (AP Photos)

What if George W. Bush Had Done That?

In a piece this morning at Politico, blogger Josh Gerstein begs the question, "What if George W. Bush Had Done it?" calling into question the consistency of some when it comes to doling out criticism on specific Obama policies that under Bush would have received harsh condemnation from Democrats, civil libertarians, human rights advocates and those in the the center and moving to the left on the political spectrum.

Choosing four specific policies (and one presidential leisure activity), Gerstein notes the envy of "former Bush supporters" who wish Obama would face heftier criticism for his 'green light to kill US citizens abroad,' 'fundraising and swing state travel,' 'closed door CEO courting,' 'leak crackdown that could send reporters to jail,' and -- why not? -- 'a golfing habit regularly indulged.'

In addition to unnamed "former Bush administration officials" Gerstein employs blogger and 'professional leftist' Glenn Greenwald to make the argument, pointing out that Greenwald has been among the few consistent and unequivocal in his policy critique and someone who "also sees a strange lack of interest toward some of Obama's policies" among his supporters. "Among them," writes Gerstin, "His administration's claim that the Constitution allows executive use of armed drones to kill U.S. citizens abroad deemed to be terrorist operatives."

"Virtually all the Democrats who were apoplectic about Bush and were constantly complaining about him 'trampling on our values' over eavesdropping and detention have been silent about assassination, even though it's so much more severe," Greenwald said. "It isn't that Obama is necessarily any worse on civil liberties than Bush. The point is he's able to get away with so much more."

Gerstein writes:

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder visited Chicago to lay out his rationale that the U.S. government has the legal right to kill U.S.-citizen terror suspects overseas -- and that there's no role for the courts in reviewing such use of lethal force.

The speech at Northwestern University Law School drew a smattering of news accounts and a handful of reporters, but no protesters, no candlelight vigil and no audience members clad in orange jumpsuits and chains. Some liberal groups issued press releases taking issue with Holder's analysis, but the reaction to what could be termed warrantless killing was a far cry from the sky-is-falling, apocalyptic rhetoric unleashed at Bush and his appointees a few years back over efforts merely to listen in on the communications of suspected terrorists through the warrantless wiretapping program.

After Obama submitted to a rare news conference the next day, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart noted that not a single question was asked about the provocative Holder speech. "How come no one at the press conference brought that up? Didn't even say a f--ing word about it?" Stewart asked on his program Wednesday. "You didn't say anything about a historically massive, executive branch power grab."

Greenwald sounded equally amazed. "Here you have Obama asserting the power not to detain Americans or eavesdrop on them, but to target them for execution by the CIA without a shred or whit of due process," he said. "I would think that most people would prefer to be eavesdropped upon, or detained, than killed with a drone."

He argues that muted criticism of Obama on the war on terror actually makes his policies more extreme.

"There were Americans in Al Qaeda throughout the Bush administration, but it never asserted the power to target them for death. It was just a bridge too far for them," Greenwald said. "Those Democrats who claimed to find these issues so important and are now being opportunistic and politically cynical are not just neglecting these abuses, they're actually enabling them."

Read the full article here.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.