I've been following the "Obama sux/rox" thing a little--not in any depth like some of you, but a little. It's a bit unfortunate the DKos is splitting down that line, and that people are drawing up teams like we're shirts and skins.
The thing is both camps are right.
Obama does rock.
And Obama does suck.
And, yes, like the White Queen, I can believe "six impossible things before breakfast".
Let me preface this by saying I voted--enthusiastically--for Obama four times: twice in the Presidential primaries, and twice in the Presidential general elections.
In May 2010, I wrote a diary entitled "DADT Study Results Due in December 2010", suggesting that the Obama Administration was dragging its feet on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't tell. I was disillusioned--terribly disillusioned. I am still grateful to Lt. Daniel Choi and Rachel Maddow for their work repealing DADT. At that point in time, I would definitely have said "Obama sux". I was convinced he wasn't going to change the military or "evolve" on the subject of marriage equality. I was convinced he was just stringing queer activists along, the way Democrats had for decades, to get our votes and to get our campaign contributions, and I was angry.
I am so glad I was so wrong.
On an issue that matters so personally to me--marriage equality--Obama rox! Without a doubt. No other president has had his courage, and no other president has had our backs, as the LGBT community, like Obama has. He hasn't offered us half-measures; instead, it's looking like, finally, we're going to have a place at the table.
I turn into Chris Matthews and get gushy about him on this topic. Tears well up in my eyes when I think about it. I get verklempt, partly at how Obama has handled marriage equality, and partly at how the nation is changing regarding queer people. I hear Macklemore's "Same Love", a straight male rapper proudly and unapologetically supporting marriage equality, on the radio airwaves on pop stations, and it brings tears to my eyes. If I had told my 18-year-old self this would happen before I was 45, I would say "Pffft! As if!" Obama rox!
Furthermore, we can't discount the Affordable Care Act, a monumental feat. Presidents from Franklin Delano Roosevelt onward have tried to get some kind of national health care, and all have fallen short. In my early adulthood, I remember First Lady Hilary Clinton's efforts crumbling into dust when her husband had been elected partly on the issue of health care. So this is a major achievement, and another place where Obama rox!
But I'm a complicated guy. I can think contradictory thoughts, even about the same person, and to say I'm disappointed with Obama about the NSA's wiretapping, the drone strikes, "Kill Day", and the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay would be a serious understatement. On these issues, Obama sux! Without any doubt.
The flagrant disregard for both the spirit and the letter of the Fourth Amendment represented by the NSA's spying sickens me. For me, it's not so much about privacy as it is about playing by the rules. Maybe I'm far too rules-bound, but when we founded this country, we said "The government can't break into our houses to rifle through our papers and effects to find evidence of a crime--not without a specific warrant for a specific person for a specific crime". I know this current NSA flap is mostly an extension of the Bush administration's policies--and that's what makes me upset. I thought Obama would be different from Bush on this front, too, but he's not. I was a political science major in college, and one of the earliest lessons I learned was that presidents--the executive branch--won't give up power previous presidents have acquired. Again, I thought maybe Obama, being a constitutional scholar, would be different. Again, I was wrong. Obama sux.
The drone strikes also bother me to no end. There's a reason we have laws. There's a reason the Geneva Conventions exist. There's a reason the executive is forbidden from giving assassination orders. Sometimes, people make mistakes, which is part of the reason we have the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to begin with. How do we know we got the right guys? There are no trials. No judges. No juries. And we can't claim we're "at war" with Pakistan, or Yemen, or Afghanistan, where we're conducting these strikes. One case involved Anwar al-Awlaki's son, Abdulrahman, an American citizen born in Denver, CO who was 16 years old at the time--by our standards, a minor (the father, also an American citizen, was also killed by drone strike a few months prior). Attorney General Eric Holder now says Abdulrahman wasn't "specifically targetted", whatever that means. Obama sux.
And it's this stuff that has made it so the weltschmerz that set in on September 11, 2001 hasn't lifted for me. I feel like I'm still stuck in the Bizarro universe, where up is down, white is black, and "privacy" means having my emails and IMs sent to and stored by the NSA.
Obama rox! He does.
But Obama also sux. I wish it weren't so.