The Rude Pundit, 5/14/2013
So it was a fun dream while it lasted, this election of the first black president, the man who would make us heal in the wake of the destruction wrought by the administration of George W. Bush, our complicity in that disaster notwithstanding. You remember those hopeful few weeks, post-2008 election, pre-inauguration? You remember how we were gearing up for greatness, for transformation of our national identity, of our politics, of ourselves? Even those of us who don't believe in divine things had an inkling of what it was like to be born again.
But we knew, those of us who were adults in the 1990s, we knew that there was also an entire industry devoted to crushing dreamers into stark realists, a machine whose sole purpose is to shred your hope and make you feel foolish for ever having believed that change was possible. That machine was ready to go the moment that Obama was elected. And too many of us were allowing our optimism to get the better of us, too many of us believed that, based on the prima facie evidence, Republicans would want to put the presidency of George W. Bush behind them and work to unify the nation. This blog maintained its steady stream of cynicism, but even as he waved his hands and said, "They're coming," the Rude Pundit allowed the soothing heat of hope to be pumped into the femoral artery of his political thinking. He thought there was a chance to evolve. He just bet on the wrong horse.
We needed someone who would lay waste to the political enemies of progress, not try to bring them into the fold. We can't say whether Hillary Clinton's would have reached out her hand so much, no matter how many times it was bitten and slapped. We don't know if that would have been her approach, but we know that it was Barack Obama's, and we know that it failed and we know that he stuck to it for too long.
You feel it, don't you? This week marked the end of the Obama presidency. No, he won't be forced out of office, but he will be forced to make do with whatever he can accomplish alone, which, at this point, is extraordinarily little. The Benghazi investigation was worthless to anyone not on Rand Paul's mailing list. But the IRS's questioning of Tea Party groups is mildly disconcerting, even if it doesn't rise to full-blown "scandal" proportions, and the Justice Department's subpoena of the phone records of AP reporters is genuinely scary, perhaps because chances are that it was perfectly legal. Still, what is true, what is legal, and what is real don't matter anymore at this point.
The reason why the Rude Pundit is declaring the Obama presidency done is not merely because the IRS story confirms everything that paranoid right-wingers believe about Obama, as The Daily Show discussed last night. No, IT'S DONE BECAUSE THE AP STORY CONFIRMS EVERYTHING THAT LIBERALS AND LIBERTARIANS FEARED ABOUT OBAMA'S EMBRACE AND EXPANSION OF THE SURVEILLANCE STATE ESTABLISHED UNDER BUSH AND CHENEY AND HIS IMMENSELY TROUBLING SILENCING OF WHISTLEBLOWERS. The press is gleefully, grotesquely feeding on the outrage.
One of the stark differences between Republicans and Democrats is that, no matter what, Republicans, on the whole, will stand by a Republican president. They will prevent investigations (like they tried to do with 9/11). They will dismiss any allegations. They will go down with the ship. Democrats will turn on a Democratic president, especially when that president is weak. They will demand investigations. They will be outraged. They will run away like rats (like keeping Bill Clinton sidelined during the 2000 election). Neither approach is honorable, but at least the Democratic way is a bit more, you know, democratic.
Now that Democrats are joining Republicans in demanding investigations into the AP and IRS stories, now that writers on the left are calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, just like writers on the right did during the fake Fast and Furious nonsense, we know what's going to go down: Committee hearings that play out like trials, the White House being tied in knots over testifying, demands for more and more information, showdowns with Congress over access, blah, blah, blah. And every speech, every call for compassion, everything Obama does now will be overshadowed, will be tainted, every effort will be stymied by suspicion. This is not to mention the effect of the Senate minority's traitorous war on the functioning of government.
The sad aspect is that it never had to be this way. Obama could have...well, hell, there's all kinds of things he could have done. The sadder aspect is that of course it had to be this way. Republicans were going to have their way no matter what. The saddest aspect is that Obama should have walked away from the forest Republicans created. Instead, he fell right into their trap. They won. Again.
Yes, yes, there will be many things in the next three plus years that we will support Obama. He's still the president, after all. There will be many times when we will attack at the GOP. And when the increasingly inevitable impeachment hearings happen, we will shout and rend our garments in anger. But we know that the end is in sight.
Hope dies the death of a thousand cuts.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Obama Hailed ‘World Press Freedom Day’ As His DOJ Was Seizing AP Phone Records
May 14, 2013, Fred Lucas
(CNSNews) – President Barack Obama issued a statement heralding World Press Freedom Day in May 2012, at the same time his Department of Justice was secretly obtaining phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors.
“On this World Press Freedom Day, the United States honors the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies,” Obama said in a statement on May 3, 2012. “We pay special tribute to those journalists who have sacrificed their lives, freedom or personal well-being in pursuit of truth and justice.”
The AP disclosed on Monday that the Justice Department obtained telephone records of 20 separate lines, including all outgoing calls and personal phone numbers, in April and May of 2012. The AP is the world’s largest wire service serving newspapers, websites and broadcast media.
“We call on all governments to protect the ability of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely without retribution and to stop the use of travel bans and other indirect forms of censorship to suppress the exercise of these universal rights,” Obama said in the May 3, 2012 statement.
Obama issued a similar statement for World Press Freedom Day in 2011, 2010 and 2009, but not for 2013.
Obama did not issue a written statement this year, but referenced it while in Costa Rica on May 3.
“I’m proud to be here as you host World Press Freedom Day,” Obama said on May 3, 2013 at a joint press conference with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. “So everybody from the American press corps, you should thank the people of Costa Rica for celebrating free speech and an independent press as essential pillars of our democracy.”
World Press Freedom Day is an event sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“In some cases, it is not just governments threatening the freedom of the press,” the president said in last year’s statement. “It is also criminal gangs, terrorists, or political factions. No matter the cause, when journalists are intimidated, attacked, imprisoned, or disappeared, individuals begin to self-censor, fear replaces truth, and all of our societies suffer. A culture of impunity for such actions must not be allowed to persist in any country.”
Outrage at the DOJ information-trolling is coming from both conservatives and many liberals, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The media's purpose is to keep the public informed and it should be free to do so without the threat of unwarranted surveillance," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. "The Attorney General must explain the Justice Department's actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again."
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday issued a statement saying, "Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP." He directed further questions to the Justice Department.
Sentiment: Strong Buy