Friday, February 15, 2008

The first civil libertarian president?

An article about Obama's long-standing, passionate commitment to civil liberties:
If Barack Obama were to win the Democratic nomination and the White House, he would be, among other things, our first civil libertarian president. This is clear not just from his lifetime rating on the ACLU's scorecard (82 percent compared to John McCain's 25 percent). It is clear from the fact that civil liberties have been among his most passionate interests--as a constitutional law professor, state legislator, and senator. On the campaign trail, he has been unapologetic about these enthusiasms. In New Hampshire, I heard him end a rousing stump speech by promising the cheering crowd, "We will close Guantánamo, we will restore habeas corpus, we will have a president who will respect and obey the Constitution." Has a political consultant ever urged a candidate to brandish habeas corpus?
Here are James Forman's comments on it:
This is a great article (today's must read) from Jeff Rosen on Obama and civil liberties.   Please forward it along to any of your friends who care about these issues because it shows Obama's lifetime of thought and engagement on the right side of politically unpopular positions.  Yesterday Clinton reiterated her "Obama is all talk" line, saying about the economy, "Speeches don't put food on the table. Speeches don't fill up your tank. Speeches don't fill your prescriptions.  That's the difference between me and my Democratic opponent. My opponent makes speeches. I offer solutions." 

Read Rosen's article and you will see what a lie this is (in admittedly, a different context; civil liberties, not the economy).  On the civil liberties front, in the 1990s while the Clinton administration was authorizing the "solution" of more federal death penalty, Obama was voting against the death penalty in Illinois, among other politically unpopular positions, and getting legislation passed to require videotaping of interrogations.   That's not speeches, that's action, and principled action at that.  He ain't perfect (I fully realize that I will be pissed off by some of the positions President Obama will take), but we actually have a record to judge and on it he looks better than his opponent.


by Jeffrey Rosen

The first civil libertarian president?

The New Republic

Post Date Wednesday, February 27, 2008 


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