Peter Barker has written a column for the NY Times in which he compares Barack Obama to George Bush. Obama’s Turn in Bush’s Bind.
For Times readers, that’s like comparing Obama to Hitler. It means that the Times is wondering if this
Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.
Of course in TimesLand nobody is as evil as George Bush with the exception of Dick Cheney who was not Hitler but Satan. And since Obama is not one of history’s greatest villains, there are differences:
The debate is not an exact parallel to those of the Bush era, and Mr. Obama can point to ways he has tried to exorcise what he sees as the excesses of the last administration.
But it’s that damned secret memo, of course. Times readers knew that Obama was killing his enemies, including American citizens using drone strikes. And that wasn’t bad, just a little iffy since he didn’t give the American a chance to surrender, just blew him up. But to have a MEMO! written justifying killing people at long distance? Especially if those people were also American citizens? What is the world coming to? Because, you see, that brings back memories of that Bush era Yoo memo justifying enhanced interrogation including waterboarding which, in contrast to blowing people (and those standing nearby) to bits, leaves them physically unharmed. …
“That memo coming out, I think, was a wake-up call,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union. “These last few days, it was like being back in the Bush days.”
One of the more endearing habits of the Times is its ability to swallow any claim by Obama whole. So they can say with a childlike faith that Obama is runner a kinder, gentler war.
At the same time, a separate hearing in Congress revealed how far Mr. Obama has gone to avoid what he sees as Mr. Bush’s central mistake. Testimony indicated that the president had overruled his secretaries of state and defense and his military commanders when they advised arming rebels in Syria.With troops only recently home from Iraq, Mr. Obama made clear that he was so intent on staying out of another war against a Middle East tyrant that he did not want to be involved even by proxy, especially if the proxies might be questionable.
Which is totally true if you assume that running wars “off the books,” with John Brennan in charge, - the sort of thing Enron did with its financial accounting just before going bust - is legitimate.
Of course the real difference is that to the readers of the NY Times, Obama is a good guy and what good guys do is – by definition – good. We have Jennifer Granholm’s word for it.
“We trust the president,” former Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan said on Current TV. “And if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms because we wouldn’t trust that he would strike in a very targeted way and try to minimize damage rather than contain collateral damage.”
All this makes sense if you are one of the remaining readers of the NY Times.