Why I remain an Obamabot

David Leonhardt points out what shouldn’t need pointing out: just on the first sixteen months’ record. this is already the most successful Democratic President since LBJ.

Elections have consequences. We have one coming up. Any sane progressive should want the Democrats to do as well as possible.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

13 thoughts on “Why I remain an Obamabot”

  1. I agree that any sane progressive should want the Democrats to do as well as possible. I just wish that you would be a little bit annoyed (if not outraged) that Obama is running a secret torture prison in Afghanistan, is ordering the murder of U.S. citizens abroad, and is arguing in court that he can deny habeas corpus to people he kidnaps and flies to Bagram instead of Guantanamo.

  2. Most successful at expanding the power of government relative to the private sector. I'll grant you he's very successful, if that's your metric.

    Why is it, though, that you want the next Republican President to inherit as much power as possible?

  3. Brett: Obama has maintained much of the executive overreach of Bush in the practice of the "war on terror", as Henry observes; though without the Yoo doctrine of presidential monarchy at home and the neocon doctrine of miltitant unilateralism abroad. The RBC bloggers do not SFIK support this, but it's a fact of life, and neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain would have been any better on this metric.

    The limited increases in government power from a Bush baseline resulting from the partial health care and financial reforms are desirable because the current systems are broken and the reforms are considerable improvements, though they don't go far enough. The same will hold for prospective energy and climate change reform. The Obama administration also believes in applying existing law on labour and the environment. That's an increase in executive action, not power. A future Republican President would be as free as Bush was to violate his oath to "faithfully execute the Office".

  4. All I see is another click of the ratchet. The idea that the government might have broken the system itself in the first place, by prohibiting interstate sales of health insurance, creating 50 smaller markets, or by setting up tax laws which led in the first place to health insurance being tied to employment, doesn't occur to you? Maybe fixing the system by undoing those mistakes might be a good idea, before giving more power to the people who broke it in the first place?

  5. I do not believe that Obama's authorizing torture, conspiracy to murder, and denial of habeas corpus is best viewed as "executive overreach" (in James Wimberley's phrase) or as the expansion of executive power. They are best viewed as crimes. No one said that Nixon had expanded executive power when he committed burglary, and that is because Congress took action against him. It is Congress, by not impeaching Bush or Obama, or creating a special prosecutor to prosecute their crimes, that has, de facto, expanded executive power.

    I am thrilled that Obama got health insurance reform, albeit not single payer or even public option, through Congress, as it will save numerous lives. In an nation that were ruled by law, however, that would not excuse his maintaining a secret prison at which torture continues, ordering murder, or keeping people imprisoned without due process. Perhaps it is a strange view, but I regard those things as serious.

  6. "Brett: Obama has maintained much of the executive overreach of Bush in the practice of the “war on terror”, as Henry observes; though without the Yoo doctrine of presidential monarchy at home and the neocon doctrine of miltitant unilateralism abroad. The RBC bloggers do not SFIK support this, but it’s a fact of life, and neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain would have been any better on this metric."

    Wow. I wouldn't have thought that authorizing it all for citizens would count as maintenance. That sounds like a dramatic expansion to me.

  7. What Henry said. I'm finding it very difficult to support Obama merely on the "GOP worse!" argument.

    Not only does Obama happily perpetuate various evils of the Bush administration, they are superfluous, unnecessary evils. Why *not* put "unlawful combantants" on trial after holding them for 7+ years? If we have enough evidence to justify holding them so long, can we really not get a conviction? Or, permit me to wonder, is our "evidence" merely a heap of b.s.?

  8. Anderson, they're worse than superfluous and unnecessary: they create more enemies of the U.S. I can't figure out why Obama does it, as unlike Bush, he is intelligent and showed during his presidential campaign that he knows better. It's not going to win him any votes.

  9. I can’t figure out why Obama does it

    "Amoral unprincipled pragmatic 'triangulation'" was my guess last Friday. He may be going with the idea that failing to act illegally in such matters will trigger the "weak Democrats" flying monkeys, and that his domestic agenda is more important than a few guys locked in dark holes under the auspices of the American flag.

    If Obama thinks that I and those who share my views are irrelevant to his re-election, who am I to argue?

  10. 'I’m finding it very difficult to support Obama merely on the “GOP worse!” argument.'

    In fact, that's the only ground on which I am able to support Obama most days. Yes, he's not batshit insane, which sets him very far ahead of both his predecessor and his electoral opponents, and has lead to some good things. But "not insane" wasn't enough reason to vote for George G. Papoon, and it's not enough reason to be enthusiastic about Obama. Let's see some real progress instead of just clawing our way back from the abyss.

  11. That NYTimes article is about the "accomplishment" of the financial reform bill, which has not yet been through reconciliation. Some admirable provisions made it into the Senate bill, but let's wait and see what is a really "accomplished" once the final product is decided. Given the track record of the administration and many lobbyist-money-engorged Democrats on actually changing things, I'm not hopeful.

  12. Anyway, I figured Mark remains an Obamabot because, as a 'bot, his political preferences were write protected…

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