In his campaign stump speech, Obama said that he wanted to
restore the moral high ground he thought was lost under Bush:
"We are going to lead by example, by maintaining the highest
standards of civil liberties and human rights."
He explained ways this would be accomplished.
"Close down Guantanamo, restore habeas corpus (the right
to see the evidence against you), say no to renditions,
no to wireless wiretapping." He also declared that single
payer was the only solution to our health care crisis.
How did he do?
Obama has not closed Guantanamo -- and some Guantanamo
prisoners have reported harsher treatment under Obama.
The Obama administration has argued against extending habeas
corpus to some prisoners, and it has continued rendition
and warrantless wiretapping. In fact, Obama went further:
secret sentences. Osama bin Laden's cook Ibrahim al-Qosi
was convicted, and his sentence will not be revealed until it's
Obama criticized Bush for claiming that the U.S. president |
has the authority to detain U.S. citizens without charges.
Osama’s administration goes further and says that, without
charges or evidence, the president has the authority to kill
U.S. citizens and even maintains a list of citizens targeted for
assassination. Obama complained about the "revelation of
secret programs" under Bush; yet, as a Washington Post
headline said this summer, "U.S. 'secret war' expands globally."
The Bush administration was criticized for making backroom
deals where the participants weren't revealed. Obama promised
his administration would be transparent and that, for instance,
he would make every aspect of the health care reform debate
open to public view, even broadcasting all negotiations on C-Span.
In practice, Obama held back names of health industry
representatives meeting behind closed doors in the
White House until a lawsuit was filed and didn't
allow transparent health care negotiations or for
them to be broadcast. He has, however, been more
open than any other administration, according to the
Pulitzer-winning PolitiFact, and posts most visitors
online, with exceptions for "sensitive meetings."
Obama criticized Bush for being in bed with oil interests.
But Bush's people were left in place in the Minerals
Management Service, which approved without
inspection at the behest of oil interests the drilling
permit that led to the Gulf\of Mexico spill. Rolling
Stone reported that staffers throughout the Interior
Department refer to working there now as "Bush's
There are many more similarities, such as in the use of
military tribunals instead of traditional courts,
Middle Eastern strategy and lack of protection
for whistle-blowers. And the Cheney-Bush policy
of endless war to enforce corporate occupations...
has only continued and expanded.
All that said, there are examples where Obama has gone against Bush policies: abortion, children's health insurance, tax cuts for the rich and the release of torture memos.
So would a person have to be "crazy" to compare
George W. Bush's presidential policies with those
of Barack Obama's?
No. Bush and Obama have behaved similarly on
major issues, including energy policy, government
transparency, terrorism, civil liberties, health care,
war & peace. Obama, like Bush and Cheney,
favor judicial homicide, even when compelling
evidence exists that such laws result in the deaths
of innocents and undermine the moral authority
of the law.
We deserve better. All we can hope for now,
is that some more progressive candidate may emerge
so that Bush does not get a Fourth Term.