Deserving of a second term
The stark choice of Obama vs. Romney
Published: October 31, 2012
Four years ago, when endorsing Barack Obama, we expressed some trepidation over his tendency to steer a course down the middle of the road.
Despite relentless claims from the lunatic right that the president is some sort of "socialist," the real concern from progressives is Obama's willingness to compromise principles that we hold dear.
Take the little-debated issue of unmanned aerial drones, which have been used by the Obama administration to conduct assassinations of suspected terrorists and militants in at least five different countries.
After researchers at New York University School of Law and Stanford University Law School released a report titled "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan," journalist Glenn Greenwald — a former constitutional law litigator — wrote:
"Democrats spent several days at their convention two weeks ago wildly cheering and chanting whenever President Obama's use of violence and force was heralded. They're celebrating a leader who is terrorizing several parts of the Muslim world, repeatedly killing children, targeting rescuers and mourners, and entrenching the authority to exert the most extreme powers in full secrecy and without any accountability — all while he increases, not decreases, the likelihood of future attacks. This new Stanford/NYU report is but the latest in a long line of evidence proving all of that."
There's a line that bears repeating: "all while he increases, not decreases, the likelihood of future attacks."
Disregard the moral arguments against the use of military force, if you will. Call them the manifestation of an idealism that doesn't work in the real world, if you want. But if you do, at least try to consider the issue from another perspective.
"What would we do if China, or Russia, or Iran sent a drone over the U.S.? How would we respond? ... We would see the presence of a drone over our air-space as an act of war, no question about it," the profoundly liberal U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said recently. "And a firing of a drone would invite a full retaliatory response. ... Why then does our administration believe that America has some kind of a peremptory position? Why are we immune from international law? Where did we get that special privilege?"
It's a policy that, as Greenwald notes, only makes us less secure in the long run because it further sows seeds of anti-American hatred.
Just as Obama's militarism poses a threat to our long-term national security, his administration has failed to ensure that our economy is protected from the kind of economic catastrophe that engulfed the country when he first took office.
As recently as his third debate with Romney, the president boasted that, under his watch, "we passed the toughest Wall Street reform since the Great Depression."
Journalist Bill Moyers recently asked Neil Barofsky to evaluate that claim. A former federal prosecutor and one-time inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Barofsky is the author of Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.
His assessment of the Wall Street reforms being touted by Obama?
"... it didn't deliver the goods where it matters the most. Again, not saying that it doesn't have some good, positive things for our system and for people. But it didn't deliver the most important thing that we need if we want to address the causes of the last crisis and help prevent the next one."
"Are you suggesting," asked Moyers, "that we could have another crash?"
"I think it's inevitable," replied Barofsky. "I mean, I don't [see] how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they've only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion."
So why, given the gravity of these critiques, would we again urge you to vote for Obama?
Because it would be folly to trade an insufficiently progressive administration for one that is so proudly regressive on so many issues. Because a Romney presidency would clearly be a disaster.
Economically, Mitt Romney is touting an approach that will either place massive new burdens on the middle class or massively increase a federal deficit that's already dangerously high. That's the reason he won't provide the details of his economic plan, and the unnamed loopholes he says he will close.
Certainly, with the selection of Tea Party darling Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has fully embraced the far right's fanatic determination to achieve a balanced budget without raising income tax rates for those at the top.
That's the take of Paul Krugman, a liberal New York Times columnist and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, on the likely outcomes, depending on who wins this election.
"If Mr. Obama wins," writes Krugman, "he'll presumably go back to pushing for modest stimulus, aiming to convert the gradual recovery that seems to be under way into a more rapid return to full employment.
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