Do you remember that kid when you were young who would always rat out your childhood nefarious schemes to the teacher or parents? That was Barack Obama. I don’t mean when he was that old. I kind of think when he was six that he was a little devil. And I understand that he went through his radical period in college, because he’s written about it. But now. He’s the kid who is so dependent on the approval of authority that he is no fun.
You may remember that last week we found out that the CIA searched Senate computers for information on their investigation into the CIA’s torture program. This resulted in calls for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan. Frankly, I don’t see why he hasn’t already resigned. This sounds like Watergate kind of stuff, but coming out of the CIA and not the White House. It is outrageous.
But at a Friday press conference we learned, Obama Backs CIA Chief Apologizing to Senators Over Search. He said, “I have full confidence in John Brennan.” Well, you know what: this has been perhaps the biggest problem with Obama from the beginning. He has had full confidence in Goldman Sachs cronies. He’s had full confidence in insurance lobbyists. And most of all, he’s had full confidence in the Republican Party. He’s looking for approval in all the wrong places.
But Jonathan Bernstein sees it a bit differently, Why Obama Is Backing His CIA Chief. After tossing aside two unlikely reasons, he says:
I think he might be right about Obama not wanting to be seen as a “wild-eyed peacenik softie.” But it’s deeper than that. The whole reason he—an African American man—is president is because he is committed to the idea everything is just fine here in America. He has completely suppressed any idea that he will make any waves because if he did that, he might seem like (Gasp!) Jesse Jackson or some other “angry black man.”
Remember all that “hope and change” that he talked about while campaigning in 2008. He didn’t betray that idea. His idea of “hope and change” was that he would come into office and reach across the isle. He’d offer the Republicans 50% of what they wanted. After negotiation, they’d get 75% of what they wanted. Given that he was always a lot more conservative than his rhetoric would indicate, that would be fine with him. And the Democrats and the Republicans would all get along and the national institutions would continue on as they had been. That didn’t work, but Obama did manage to squander the greatest liberal opportunity since the Great Depression to allow the same old system to stumble forward.
So just like Obama has pushed forward with Bush’s drone program and Bush’s surveillance program and Bush’s anti-leaker program (And greatly extended them!), Obama is just fine with the CIA spying on the Senate. What’s the big deal? The CIA has powers. They are supposed to spy. So they are spying on the people’s elected officials? What’s the big deal?! The main thing is that we be moderate about this all. I’m sure we can depend upon John Brennan who was in charge when this happened to make sure that it never happens again. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Do you understand? Let’s not disrupt anything, because our current President doesn’t believe in disrupting anything that is powerful. If he did, they might not approve of him. And that just isn’t the Obama way.
Trevor Timm at The Guardian writes of John Brennan, “Private apologies are not enough for a defender of torture, the architect of America’s drone program and the most talented liar in Washington. The nation’s top spy needs to go.” That’s right.