Editorial: Dems act more loyal to party than policy
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 23:02
While George W. Bush was president, most Democrats criticized his foreign policy whenever they got the opportunity. They bashed the Bush Administration for imprisoning enemy combatants indefinitely and without a trial. Many refused to use the term “enhanced interrogation” and fought against it, and were outraged when Bush withheld documents governing the use of torture.
To Democrats’ delight, President Obama released Bush’s previously secret documents shortly after entering office. However, he hasn’t followed through on many of his campaign promises, including closing Guantanamo Bay. Liberals and libertarians alike have been harsh critics of his foreign policies, particularly his use of drone strikes and the massive collateral damage that typically accompanies them. But Democratic politicians have remained nearly silent, and many have even declared their support for Obama’s new policies. These lawmakers should be more consistent in their views, rather than simply supporting the president due to his party affiliation.
In addition to his other policy turnarounds, Obama has even ramped up many of his predecessor’s policies, increasing the use of drone strikes to systematically target those on his official “kill list.” He was even the first to use drones to target and kill an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, for suspected terrorist activities.
One would think that congressional Democrats would be outraged over the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen abroad. After all, they had condemned George W. Bush for much less. However, the uproar in the blogosphere and traditional media seemed to fall on deaf ears, with Democrats remaining largely silent on the issue. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a liberal Democrat currently leading the charge for more gun control, even implicitly excused the killing, calling al-Awlaki a “so-called American” during a hearing.
Further emulating his predecessor, President Obama then refused to release the documents governing the use of drone strikes. A small group of principled legislators, led by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), fought against the Administration’s secrecy. Last week, Obama finally met them partway, disclosing the classified documents to the House and Senate intelligence committees but keeping the public in the dark. A leaked, less extensive memo has shown that the Administration is twisting the definition of “imminent threat” and targeting individuals with little evidence.
More worrying than Democrats’ lack of outrage for these policies is their explicit acceptance by some. Former Democratic Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm recently stated in an interview, “We trust the president. 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.”
There are two explanations for this: either Democratic lawmakers were never opposed to this aggressive foreign policy and were only disagreeing with Bush due to his party affiliation, or they are now lining up behind Obama despite him going against some of their deepest-held beliefs. Either way, they are clearly in the wrong. We need our elected officials to be consistent in their beliefs and policy positions, not chameleons who change their stance depending on what party the president is from.