What’s most striking to me about all of this is that — as I noted yesterday (and as Olbermann stressed) — George Bush’s decision merely to eavesdrop on American citizens without oversight, or to detain without due process Americans such as Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, provoked years of vehement, vocal and intense complaints from Democrats and progressives. All of that was disparaged as Bush claiming the powers of a King, a vicious attack on the Constitution, a violation of Our Values, the trampling on the Rule of Law. Yet here you have Barack Obama not merely eavesdropping on or detaining Americans without oversight, but ordering them killed with no oversight and no due process of any kind. And the reaction among leading Democrats and progressives is largely non-existent, which is why Olbermann’s extensive coverage of it is important. Just imagine what the reaction would have been among progressive editorial pages, liberal opinion-makers and Democratic politicians if this story had been about George Bush and Dick Cheney targeting American citizens for due-process-free and oversight-less CIA assassinations.
Republicans are not going to object to any of this. With rare exception, they believe in unlimited executive authority and denial of due process. They see Obama’s adoption of the core Bush/Cheney approach as a vindication of what they did for eight years (and also see it, not unreasonably, as proof that progressive complaints about Bush’s “shredding of the Constitution” were not genuine but rather opportunistic, cynical and motivated by desire for partisan gain). As a result, even the most Obama-hating right-wing extremists will praise him and cheer for what he’s doing. At the same time, the people who spent eight years screaming about things like this (when Bush/Cheney were doing them) are now mostly silent if not finding ways to justify and defend it (we don’t need due process because the President said this is an American-Hating Terrorist). As White House servant Richard Wolffe said in the second Olbermann segment below (and Wolffe’s commentary was actually fairly good), the White House is “very proud” of its presidential assassination program, which is likely why they decided to leak it to the NYT and the WP yesterday.
Here again, we see one of the principal and longest-lasting effects of the Obama presidency: to put a pretty, eloquent, progressive face on what (until quite recently) was ostensibly considered by a large segment of the citizenry to be tyrannical right-wing extremism (e.g., indefinite detention, military commissions, “state secrets” used to block judicial…