Category Archives: Letdown

Obama Letdown Watch — Final Post

Obviously, this blog has not been updated in quite a while. Which makes it much like many other, if not most blogs…they start off strong, enthusiasm abounds, but, over time, the spark fades, the updates become less frequent, and the blog becomes another dead end street, a micro-statistic on a Google Analytics dashboard.

But rather than just let it wither, it seemed better to write up one last post, on the eve of the 2012 campaign, with the President’s numbers in recent opinion polls not looking all that great, and explain why we’re no longer keeping the Obama Letdown Watch updated.

What was particularly frustrating about the two and a half years we spent on this blog was documenting the slow and steady march Obama took towards becoming just another politician. This began with the FISA vote — the primary reason we got involved with the Obama campaign and started this blog — and continued in so many areas, from GITMO to climate change to Executive power and more. It became tedious, and depressing, to see this. We found it difficult to find the energy to write what become a never-ending list of areas where he really did exactly the opposite of what he said he was going to do as President.

But even more than specific campaign promises, which we all know aren’t realistically kept, what was most frustrating that, back in 2008, we had the idea, the possibility, that we may have found someone who wasn’t the typical politician. Someone from the outside (or as outside as a somewhat-newly-elected Senator could be…) who might be able to stir things up in Washington enough to change it.

Turns out, one of two things are true: Either Obama wasn’t the guy to do it, or it just can’t be done.

Because what has not changed in the last two and a half years is what’s referenced at the top of every page of this blog: the business as usual of Washington goes on.

So, for those reasons, this blog has simply faded out.

But we’ll end on a brighter note. Obama did a lot of things right. He did make progress. He’s got a laundry list of accomplishments that he’ll be able to bring out for the debates, and television commercials, and the campaign stops along the way.

He’s got our votes still. But it’s disappointing that it won’t be a more enthusiastic one.

– CS and JJB



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Paul Krugman tells it like it is.

Oh snap!

Krugman pulls no punches in his last column, Freezing Out Hope. Some choice excerpts:

After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?

On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.

So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.

…America’s long-run deficit problem has nothing at all to do with overpaid federal workers…employee pay is only a small fraction of federal expenses; even cutting the payroll in half would reduce total spending less than 3 percent.

So freezing federal pay is cynical deficit-reduction theater.

Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake. Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction

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A couple autumn Obama Letdowns

Read ’em and weep.

1. Government Seeks Back Door Into All Our CommunicationsAdministration Seeks Easy Access To Americans’ Private Online Communications

The Obama administration is seeking to expand the government’s ability to conduct invasive surveillance online, according to a report in The New York Times today. According to the report, the administration is expected to submit legislation to Congress early next year that would mandate that all online communications services use technologies that would make it easier for the government to collect private communications and decode encrypted messages that Americans send over texting platforms, BlackBerries, social networking sites and other “peer to peer” communications software.

2. Robert Gibbs, hypocritical transparency crusader

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Obama argues that his assassination program is a state secret

The tireless Glenn Greenwald:

I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration last late night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That’s not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate its legality.

I genuinely didn’t think it was possible for any President to concoct an assertion of executive power and secrecy that would be excessive and alarming to David Rivkin, but Barack Obama managed to do that, too. Obama’s now asserting a power so radical — the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts — that it’s “too harsh even for” one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation. But that power is certainly not “too harsh” for the kind-hearted Constitutional scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified. One other thing, as always: vote Democrat, because the Republicans are scary!

Read the whole post here

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Obama Letdowns — February through September, 2010

It’s time once again to clear out my queue of Obama Letdowns. For all your hater-haters our there, fear not, I’ve got a pro-Obama post coming up next.

I haven’t done this since January(!), so it’s quite a list. Let’s get started.

Justice Dept. defends warrantless cell phone tracking

The FBI and other police agencies don’t need to obtain a search warrant to learn the locations of Americans’ cell phones, the U.S. Department of Justice told a federal appeals court in Philadelphia.

A Justice Department attorney told the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that there is no constitutional problem with obtaining records from cellular providers that can reveal the approximate locations of handheld and mobile devices.

Obama Quietly Continues Bush’s Disdain for UN

The Democratic Party’s deceitful game

Rockefeller was willing to be a righteous champion for the public option as long as it had no chance of passing (sadly, we just can’t do it, because although it has 50 votes in favor, it doesn’t have 60). But now that Democrats are strongly considering the reconciliation process — which will allow passage with only 50 rather than 60 votes and thus enable them to enact a public option — Rockefeller is suddenly “inclined to oppose it” because he doesn’t “think the timing of it is very good” and it’s “too partisan.”

FDL Statement on the Passage of the Health Care Bill

this is not health care reform, and the task of providing health care that Americans can afford is still before us. Too much was sacrificed to corporate interests in the sausage-making process. Rather than address the fundamental flaws in our health care system, we applied a giant band-aid. This health care bill does not come close to doing all that needs to be done to meet the needs of our citizens and our businesses as we retool our economy for the 21st century.

Obama Hosts Anti-Abortion Signing Ceremony

After reporter’s subpoena, critics call Obama’s leak-plugging efforts Bush-like

The Justice Department’s decision to subpoena a New York Times reporter this week has convinced some press advocates that President Obama’s team is pursuing leaks with the same fervor as the Bush administration.

Obama’s natural choice of Kagan

It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.

Obama’s Drug Strategy All Talk, No Walk

New target of rights erosions: U.S. citizens

A primary reason Bush and Cheney succeeded in their radical erosion of core liberties is because they focused their assault on non-citizens with foreign-sounding names, casting the appearance that none of what they were doing would ever affect the average American. There were several exceptions to that tactic — the due-process-free imprisonment of Americans Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, the abuse of the “material witness” statute to detain American Muslims, the eavesdropping on Americans’ communications without warrants — but the vast bulk of the abuses were aimed at non-citizens. That is now clearly changing.

Hudson Institute Fellow Applauds Obama Administration’s Whistleblower Prosecutions

Yesterday, the conservative Hudson Institute held an event in which former Bush CIA Director (and National Security Agency (NSA) head during the implementation of the NSA’s illegal spying program) Gen. Michael Hayden called the Obama administration’s recent dedication to ferreting out and locking up truthtellers a “positive step” that has “begun to chip away at the notion that there are no sanctions” for revealing classified information.

Goldilocks Triangulation

Lawrence Lessig: On the Rage of Gibbs

Lefties (like me) who criticize Obama are not criticizing him for failing our Lefty test. Our criticism is that Obama is failing the Obama test: that he is not delivering the presidency that he promised.

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