I’ve got lots of hands now. And by that I mean that on the one hand, my book Out of Many, One: Obama and the Third American Political Tradition, published by the press of the university that Obama relates to the most — University of Chicago — a great university that also contains a great K-12 lab school*, shows how Barack Obama’s first campaign and his first administration fascinated me.
On the other hand, I’m deeply disappointed by all this NSA stuff (though I remain stubbornly aligned with him on Obamacare).
To keep it simple, let me start with just these foreign-policy hands. What is Obama thinking? Why isn’t he backing off? How is he getting “more defiant,” as one blogger put it? Especially after Angela Merkel’s phone call.
On the other hand, the order for tapping the 35 leaders was implemented in 2006. Think about it — 2006, when Barack Obama was one of the tiny few in the Senate from either sides who had opposed our invasion of Iraq.
Now, throwing up my hands, I don’t know what to think. Whether it’s 2006 or January 20, 2009, Obama clearly knows what is going on, and since Snowden’s disclosures began last June, he has indeed been increasingly defiant.
So for anything NSA-related, I’m going to stick with my backhand and ask: What is going on? How can any second-term president, from the right or the left, not believe he is destroying his own legacy with this defiance? Being a former civil-rights professor from the University of Chicago, who supposedly ran a very even-handed class on a hot topic, makes it all the more mystifying that he would want to be the president second only to George W. and Ronald Reagan in terms of having the strongest legacy of undermining our civil liberties. Drop the defiance . . . and start running, not “inching,” toward that apology to us all.
* My father, who was not even a child of faculty at the University, was a student here, so my family taught me to be proud of being associated with University of Chicago, and especially the lab school John Dewey started.