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The Two Faces of Obama

Matt Wuerker
© Matt Wuerker

What’s ironic about this is that I don’t think Republicans care if their accusations against Obama are contradictory. They just keep throwing shit until something sticks.

Also ironic is that even though some of the recent scandals have stuck a bit (and the NSA scandal is even getting strong support from the left), none of this seems to be affecting Obama’s favorability ratings.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to downplay the NSA issue. I don’t agree with everything that Obama does and I’m deeply troubled by the NSA spying on US citizens, with seemingly no oversight at all. I really wish Obama would keep his promises about transparency. But it is clear that the GOP is not bringing up scandal after scandal in order to fix any problems with our government, they are doing it merely for political gain. It is hard to imagine that they would be any better if they were in charge, well except that anybody who objected to NSA spying would be labelled a traitor and soft on terrorism.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    I hate republicans when do evil things, while I am only troubled when democrats do same things. That is what I been hearing from you.

    Monday, June 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  2. ThatGuy wrote:

    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting democrats are perfect or above reproach (hardly any of the “Late Night Political Humor” would be posted). Far from it in fact. But if you actually think that the two parties are equal in their duplicity and, frankly, insanity, I strongly suggest a second look at the last 12 years.

    For instance, the above comic vs. Democrat attacks on Bush between 2001-2009. The Bush administration ACTUALLY lied their way into a war that killed thousands upon thousands of people, squandering any international goodwill that existed as a result of 9/11. His administration invented the programs being demonized today (see poster on the right) with the vast support of Republicans. True, many Democrats supported the Iraq War (based at best on false information and at worst on political concerns (or both)) and some gave the green light to the Patriot Act. What is the difference between these two camps? Democrats by and large realized they were terrible ideas as it became clearer that they were terrible ideas. Some Republicans kept trumpeting US presence in Iraq even after the last troops had left, while seemingly all Republicans came to hate the provisions of domestic surveillance measures only when they could harm a hated Democratic incumbent.

    I’ll let another poster, if they so choose, go into the dueling economics of the two parties (trying to solve problems vs. trying to exacerbate them for political gain). That’s fertile ground as well.

    TLDR: Neither party is fantastic, perhaps neither is even good or decent, but if you think they are on the same level of complete incompetence, willful ignorance, and/or callousness, you’re going to need a really, really good argument above and beyond “they’re the same.”

    Monday, June 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Once upon a time, the Republicans stood for many good things. Like fiscal responsibility. Once upon a time, conservatives wanted to “conserve” things. Heck, Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency. Once upon a time, even though I largely disagreed with social conservatives, I appreciated them as a counter-balance to some of the crazier ideas of of the more radical progressives.

    I don’t hate anyone, but I will speak out against evil things. I don’t care who does them. Is it inconceivable to you that perhaps the Republican party has lost their way? How could you watch any of the Republican presidential primary debates and not wonder how they went off the deep end so badly? Yes, there are Democrats that have gone off the deep end (John Edwards is a prime example), but it seems like you can’t be a Republican politician today without being pushed off the deep end by “the base”. That explains people like John McCain, who I used to admire. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for people like Michelle Bachmann (or the people who keep voting for her).

    Yes, I am biased. I am biased in favor of scientific thought. I am biased in favor of pragmatism — figuring out what works and implementing it. I am biased against pandering to people’s hatred and fears. I am biased against people who hide their greed and corruption behind flag waving and patriotism. I am biased against people who claim to love their country while raping it. This is not about politics, this is about governing and being good citizens.

    I am blessed to live in a city where the politicians really do seem to love their home and try their best to take care of it, so I know it is possible. But they make mistakes and some even become corrupt here too. But I remain hopeful and optimistic enough to believe that I can, in some small way, make a difference. I refuse to fall into the trap of “there’s nothing I can do” or “they are all the same so it makes no difference”.

    Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of freedom.

    Monday, June 17, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink
  4. Hassan wrote:

    @THATGUY, this is my whole issue. Ever since NSA story is broken (or any other bad deeds by Obama administration), the tools of the left, are trying to make these issues about Republicans. If you see series of posts by Iron Knee, (and few at dailykos), they are trying to make this about republican party. I do not want to read (satire or genuine serious) stuff about republican party (in NSA or Drones context). I want to see criticism (jokes or otherwise) about democrats and Obama. You (and others) are trying to list bad deeds of Republicans. They are not in power. Obama is the one who had secret interpretation of Patriot Act (or FISA laws), not Bush. Whatever Bush started, Obama did not have to continue.

    So I think enough of wasting time on demonizing republicans, lets talk about Obama and democrats for a change.

    Monday, June 17, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    OK Hassan, what do you think is the right way to prevent terrorism? What is the proper role of our intelligence services in finding and preventing terrorist plots?

    I think the Patriot Act went way too far (and said so when it was passed and renewed). But I also don’t believe that our intelligence services have no role to play.

    Monday, June 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink
  6. Hassan wrote:

    @Iron, you just simply do not get it. The subtitle of your blog is “HUMOR AND HYPOCRISY FROM THE WORLD OF POLITICS”. Yet you fail to see your own HYPOCRISY, and HYPOCRISY of left and democrats. It seems it is limited to republicans and conservatives only.

    We can definitely discuss merits of NSA etc, I grew up under repressive regime, where every movement was monitored and you could not travel outside city except by permission of authorities. So for me these things are nothing new. And I always “thought” we (muslims only) were being wiretapped and monitored, but never “knew” that to be fact. Now it turns out everyone is being wiretapped. We can have more qualified people discuss it as well. To me it is just common sense that the more data we have, more difficult it will be to catch bad guys. The “intelligence” has to be intelligent. Wasting time on random people (or entire country) is not going to be meaningful. Also it violates 4th amendment, to search people record without probable cause. We had Boston tragedy just few months ago, it does not seem effective.

    You posted one of Jay Leno jokes (thank you): “President Obama said he welcomes a national debate over our surveillance policies. He said that’s a debate we wouldn’t have had five years ago. Five years ago? It’s a debate we wouldn’t have had two weeks ago if they all hadn’t gotten caught.”

    That is exactly how I feel now. When Bush was president and republicans were in charge:

    1. Leftists, liberals were all up in arms denouncing Bush’s indefinite detention policies of a US citizen, and his suspension of habeas corpus, the candidate Obama was against all sort of bad things, and yet he ended up doing more than detention (killing 3 american citizens without trial). And now since Obama and democrats are doing it, we are being invited to have “civil meaningful debate”.

    2. Whatever Bush’s FISA surveillance was leaked, it was minimal, and law was passed to allow NSA to listen without court orders for 30 days I believe, for non-US citizens. He was condemned by left and democrats, now when Obama has taken it to next level, “lets talk about it”.

    Glen Greenwald has talked about left’s hypocrisy for a while. And he puts it in very nice terms, that presidency of Obama has achieved to make these things have bipartisan support. Now majority of country approves it. But I hope majority of country knows that bill of rights are not up for popular votes.

    PS: I am sorry I am being harsh, I appreciate your work, I enjoy your blog and I still like you.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yeah, I liked that Jay Leno joke too.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink
  8. ThatGuy wrote:

    Most of the posts here recently have either been Late Night Political Humor updates rife with jokes at the expense of the Obama administration. Then there are the comics to similar ends.

    To say you only want jokes or discussion about what Obama or Democrats are doing is shortsighted, particularly when you note that these programs are legacies of the past administration. You can’t revel only in jokes about Democrats anymore than someone should only focus on Republicans. Each party almost always has the power to amend, delay, or obstruct the party “in power”. I’d argue the Democrats’ hold on power is tenuous at best with a President who has just half of Congress’ support when it suits them and faces a radically obstructionist House and a conservative Judiciary.

    But there I go turning things around on Republicans. There are always points where people (and many here) will disagree with Democrats. Thankfully, responses from Political Irony readers are typically void of the panicked overreactions seen just about everywhere else in the media. I also think that most people here gravitate toward the center-left of the spectrum though, so seeing a deal of negativity toward Republicans is to be expected, especially when that party isn’t helping themselves very much. Democrats aren’t immune to negativity here, but I’d say that the outrage or criticism that you seem to be seeking is missing due to the fact that, in this two party system, most here (feel free to correct me, PI faithful) believe the Democrats to be the lesser of two evils by a great margin.

    Finally, the best part about this site is our collective ability to drive the conversation, as you are doing now. Instead of bemoaning the content of the site, bring up your own content. Argue why this is entirely Obama or the Democrats’ fault and start the discussion you want.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  9. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I think what Hassan is trying to say is what has any of the current issues got to do with Republicans and why must we atempt to defend Obama by bringing up republicans. Isn’t that some kind of strawman in a way? Look, I like to consider myself a pragmatist. A common sense guy who looks at things in a very basic way. I can and have however been biased against the liberal perspective in favor of more conservative solutions. I have been through debate and alot of thought been convinced that some of my conservative leanings are not what is best for the majority.

    If these issues currently facing the Obama administration had occurred under Bush, and yes the NSA issue did in fact start with him, then there would be just a one sided discussion all bad and all about republicans. But when the problem is with Obama, it’s still compared to republicans and Bush. What do either have to do with the IRS targeting conservative groups or the clamping down on the AP to stifle free speech? Both od those are 100% Obama and his admin. If Bush’s AG had tracked the phones of Rachel Maddow or Chris I get a thrill up my leg Matthews all hell would broke loose. If Bush’s IRS had targeted planned parenthood groups or other liberal leaning non-profits there would have been marching in the streets and swatstikas painted accross Bush heads everywhere.

    I think this is the point that HAssan is trying to make, there is no fair or impartial outlet anywhere on the right or left. If there is they are dismissed as a puppet for the opposing side or accused of having some hidden agenda. If Bush started the NSA eavsdropping, Obama and his team have managed to take it to a whole new level.

    IK on the role of Intel in thwarting terrorist attacks, it’s clear they can’t thwart them all. Intel requires sources on the ground, clandestine operators who live on the edge of good and evil, paid informants, and luck. There is too mush data out there from too many sources using too much IT to effectively pick out a thread and thwart an attack. Yeah they need it, but they just can’t trample our rights and get access to everything. If they have a lead, even if it’s marginally creditable, they should be allowed to investigate further through electronic surveillance until they determine yea or nea. But they should not be allowed to just collect data on anyone and anything. Suppose theirs a cell within NSA that like the IRS begins to collect data on political opponents, you, other news outlets, gun owners, business owners, internet companies, people who fly flags, people who stomp on flags. We don’t know, because there is no congressional oversight. Heck, I bet even Obama doesn’t know.
    Oh well enough rambling on. 🙂

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  10. Duckman wrote:

    I’ll agree with Hassan on this one. I’ve always thought the irony in this blog was the fact that it is as biased as the groups it slams.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  11. ebdoug wrote:

    Republicans: Chris Christie fills the bill of what you describe as what Republicans used to be. Christie for President. Democrat: Booker for Vice President. In the real world, this would never happy.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  12. ebdoug wrote:

    “You cannot take away freedom to protect it, you cannot destroy the free market to save it, and you cannot uphold freedom of speech by silencing those with whom you disagree. To take rights away to defend them or to spend your way out of debt defies Common Sense”
    Here is an interesting quote mostly for the author: Glenn Beck “Common Sense” 2009 (from Wikipedia

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink
  13. Dan wrote:

    Once upon a time I considered myself a Republican. I joined the Dems because there is no other show in town and they were the lesser of two evils. I agree 100% with Iron Knee’s #3 post. The culture of fear that has swept over the nation is depressing, and allowed Plutocrats an opportunity to achieve major power grabs, with the help of the courts. I weep for Democracy and our freedoms. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  14. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I ran accross this article, the last for Michael Hastings after his tragic death earlier this week. As you may remember he was the journalist who brought down McCrystal.

    It’s quite a sobering take on the trampling of civil liberties by Dems and the hypocrisy of some of the party leaders who decried Bush’s comparatively benign grab on confiscation of liberty and how they support and tow the party line now that it’s their guy doing it.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink
  15. Michael wrote:

    Hassan and Patriotsgt, you make good points about an insufficient protest to Obama’s escalation of wiretapping, surveillance, and drone usage (you didn’t mention that last one here, but I’m adding it in for good measure because it’s been discussed in the past). If these things came to light 6-8 years ago, there would have been a much bigger uproar. However, I think the accusation of hypocrisy is an unnecessary ad hominem and slightly off-target.

    I can only speak for myself, but I view it more as outrage fatigue. I spent most of the Bush administration arguing about this stuff and trying to convince others that this was a bigger problem than terrorism. I spent a lot of time and energy then, to no avail. When Obama was elected, I thought the tide was turning. But then a strange thing happened: The GOP started taking people like Bachmann, Trump, Perry, Santorum, and Cain seriously. As much as I want to hold Obama’s feet to the flames, the thought of the current GOP base gaining more power than it already has terrifies me to no end. They are pushing the country in a horrifically self-destructive direction.

    In the end, I only have so much energy for outrage. I can either use it to scream and holler about the one guy who is making one aspect of our government marginally worse or about the 10-20 people who want to make several other parts significantly worse. And considering the former topic seems to be a lost cause, I will grudgingly choose the latter.

    In short, yeah, I should be more vocal in protesting Obama’s surveillance programs. And, yeah, he has certainly escalated Bush’s policies. So while it is fair to blame Bush for getting the ball rolling, Obama deserves some blame for helping to push it along. But the thing is, I just can’t muster the effort to do much about it. Basically, I’m saying this to the people who are just now getting outraged about this stuff: “Screw it. I’ve been arguing about this for years and I’m too tired to care anymore. You should have been screaming with me a decade ago, but you weren’t. It’s your turn now.”

    Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  16. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Michael Thanks – thats just part of the problem though. Yeah people are tired, but the bigger problem is being labled a right wing tool if you do raise your voice. Leading up to and during the Dem convention my Governor, Martin O’Malley from MD, was trying to get some national airtime for his expected run in 2016. He was the chair of the Dem Gov’s Assoc. He was getting more interviews and some cable news primtime spots and completely backing up the President and putting down republicans, but when asked a particular question on one occasion at the convention he spoke up and disagreed with an Obama policy and said he’d do it differently. I also think the other reason he was silenced was because Hilary was already planning her run and King Bill is way out of Omalley’s league when it comes to challenging the establishments heir apparant.
    He was never heard from again on the national level. No more interviews from the lefter leaning media, no more prime time spots. It was like he fell into a black hole. Thats what happens to our aspiring politicians who speak out against the norm. It happens on the right as well, although they seem to go down yelling and screaming, while dems just dissappear quietly.
    Thats what I fear most with the press, which can be controlled by those in power in exchange for access. Control of the media is step 1 to controlling the people. If you don’t follow the script then the DOJ is called in or the partner thug the IRS. It’s like the mafia sending Luigi and Guido over to have a conversation and show you some cement slippers. We need more views, yes even more conservative media outlets besides FOX since their like the only one (maybe there actually are center right conservatives that we just don’t know about). We need to hear the middle’s view more. CNN is chastised for not taking a stand either way with only a few exceptions. They’re victimized by the left when they’re critical of Obama or the Gov’t, and ridiculed by the right when they’re positive of Obama or the gov’t. Jeez.

    Look what the right has tried to do to Christie for shaking Obama’s hand and asking for help and thanking him for his efforts. Fortunately, he was already known and popular. But he still won’t be able to get the nomination now unless the landscape changes.

    Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  17. Iron Knee wrote:

    This is a good convo.

    Re: Christie and the right. Now I’m seeing the right attack Marco Rubio because of his support for immigration reform.

    Once considered a rising star, now they are saying that Rubio has destroyed his chances for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

    Friday, June 21, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  18. Hassan wrote:

    Michael, I understand your point of view, but we have people like Mika who were against it, and now giving Obama benefit of the doubt.

    Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink