There’s no other way to describe it.
In 2013, Cillizza’s selection was Barack Obama. He cited the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, the NSA domestic-surveillance scandal, the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups, and the continuing questions about the administration’s actions before, during, and after the attack on Americans in Benghazi.
“These are strenuous efforts to avoid the obvious: Obama’s ideas didn’t work. He failed to deliver what he promised.”
In 2014, Cillizza’s selection was Obama, again. The midterm elections went abysmally for Democrats, the threat of ISIS became much clearer, Russia moved into Ukraine, and former CIA director and secretary of defense Leon Panetta painted an unflattering portrait of the president’s leadership in his memoirs.
In 2015, Cillizza picked two co-“winners,” Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. The reasons were obvious. By December 2015, it was clear Bush’s odds of winning the nomination were small and shrinking quickly. Clinton, meanwhile, looked likely to emerge bloodied from the Democratic primaries after a tougher-than-expected fight with Bernie Sanders.
“President Obama’s second term has been a terrible failure for the country. A nation that is pleased with the status quo — a nation that feels prosperous, safe, and confident about the future — doesn’t choose to roll the dice with Donald Trump.”
This year, Cillizza assessed the surprising post-election political landscape and selected “The Democrats”:
The Democrats may be effectively locked out of power in all three branches of government for years. At the state level, after last month’s elections, they’ll control only 16 governorships and 13 legislatures.
This year, punctuated by Hillary Clinton’s loss, exposed the remarkably shallow depth of the Democratic bench. The size of the Republican primary field — for which the GOP was relentlessly mocked — was also a sign of the party’s health up and down the ballot. Democrats simply didn’t have the political talent to put forward 17 candidates (or even seven). That’s partly because there’s been limited opportunity to move up in the leadership ranks. Pelosi (Calif.) and Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and James E. Clyburn (S.C) have had a death grip on the party’s top congressional slots for a very long time. It’s also partly because the Democratic farm system is hurting.
Lined up one after another, Cillizza’s picks create a broader narrative: President Obama’s second term has been a terrible failure for the country. A nation that is pleased with the status quo — a nation that feels prosperous, safe, and confident about the future — doesn’t choose to roll the dice with Donald Trump.
Liberals liked executive authority as long as Obama wielded it. Now they’ve set a precedent.
Glenn Greenwald writes: Liberals are understandably panicked about what Donald Trump can carry out. “We have a president-elect with authoritarian tendencies assuming a presidency that has never been more powerful,” Franklin Foer wrote this past week in Slate. Trump will command not only a massive nuclear arsenal and the most robust military in history, but also the ability to wage numerous wars in secret and without congressional authorization; a ubiquitous system of electronic surveillance that can reach most forms of human communication and activity; and countless methods for shielding himself from judicial accountability, congressional oversight and the rule of law — exactly what the Constitution was created to prevent. Trump assumes the presidency “at the peak of its imperial powers,” as Foer put it.
“After Obama took office, many liberals often tolerated — and even praised — his aggressive assertions of executive authority. It is hard to overstate how complete the Democrats’ about-face on these questions was once their own leader controlled the levers of power.”
Sen. Barack Obama certainly saw it that way when he first ran for president in 2008. Limiting executive-power abuses and protecting civil liberties were central themes of his campaign. The former law professor repeatedly railed against the Bush-Cheney template of vesting the president with unchecked authorities in the name of fighting terrorism or achieving other policy objectives.
“After just three years of the Obama presidency, liberals sanctioned a system that allowed the president to imprison people without any trial or an ounce of due process.”
“This administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide,” he said in 2007. Listing an array of controversial Bush-Cheney policies, from warrantless domestic surveillance to due-process-free investigations and imprisonment, he vowed: “We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers.”
“Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit.”
Yet, beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance.
“Beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them.”
Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit. The president-elect frightens them, so they are now alarmed. But if they want to know whom to blame, they should look in the mirror.
Obama’s approach to executive power flipped so quickly and diametrically that it is impossible to say if he ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint. As early as May 2009, Jack Goldsmith, a Justice Department official under George W. Bush, celebrated Obama’s abandonment of his promises to rein in these authorities, writingthat “the new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit.” He added that the “Obama practices will be much closer to late Bush practices than almost anyone expected in January 2009.”
“Obama’s approach to executive power flipped so quickly and diametrically that it is impossible to say if he ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint.”
By putting a prettier liberal face on these policies, and transforming them from a symbol of GOP radicalism into one of bipartisan security consensus, the president entrenched them as permanent fixtures of the American presidency. As Goldsmith put it, Obama’s actions were “designed to fortify the bulk of the Bush program for the long-run.”
“In fact, a new Democratic Party orthodoxy took hold under Obama: the right of a president to detain people, or even assassinate them, without charges or a whiff of judicial oversight. This included even American citizens.”
Liberals vehemently denounced these abuses during the Bush presidency. From 2001 through 2008, Democrats called them the embodiment of tyranny, an existential threat to democracy, a menacing expression of right-wing radicalism. Read the rest of this entry »
Joining all of America in wishing a very Happy Birthday to Barbara Bush! Love, Bill & the other kids
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) June 8, 2015
It’s time for the Republican Party to nominate a JFK-style conservative for president
Ira Stoll writes; The most influential figure in the Republican presidential contest just may be a Democrat who died more than 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy.
When Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer recently predicted Marco Rubio as the eventual 2016 winner, Krauthammer praised the senator from Florida with a label encapsulating political vigor, pro-growth ideas, and a robust foreign policy of peace through strength: “Kennedyesque.”
The former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, another Republican with eyes on the White House, is, as Kennedy was, a Catholic from a wealthy and politically active family with bases in both New England and Florida. Jeb Bush even wrote a book, Profiles in Character, with a title that is a conscious imitation of JFK’s Profiles in Courage. Bush and Kennedy also both wrote books extolling immigration; Bush’s was Immigration Wars, Kennedy’s was A Nation of Immigrants.
And don’t forget Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas. Cruz’s Senate Web site hosts a video featuring Fox News’s Neil Cavuto and a historic clip from Kennedy under the headline “The Success of President John F. Kennedy’s Tax Cut.” On the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, Cruz published a remarkable piece in National Review Online crediting Kennedy with laying the foundation for Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and Cold War victory.
At a forum last month with Jonathan Karl of ABC News that was sponsored by the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Senator Cruz placed Kennedy with Reagan and Calvin Coolidge in the pantheon of conservative tax-cutters: “Every single time in our history that we have simplified taxes, reduced the burden, reduced the compliance cost, simplified regulation …. We’ve seen an economic boom, we’ve seen people climb out of poverty into prosperity. That was true in the 1920s, it was true in the 1960s, it was true in the 1980s.”
When another Republican presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson, spoke to me about his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said he would have responded instead to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with “a Kennedy-esque moment,” launching a “national project” to become petroleum independent. Read the rest of this entry »
Former Florida Governor to Launch Political-Action Committee in January
Jeb Bush, the son and brother of past presidents, kick-started the 2016 presidential race Tuesday by announcing plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign, an unexpectedly early declaration that ramps up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffles the policy debate.
The move by the 61-year-old former Florida governor essentially marks the beginning of the presidential sweepstakes. With a national profile, access to big donors and iconic status in the nation’s largest swing state, Mr. Bush ’s move puts instant pressure on a sprawling field of as many as two dozen other Republicans weighing 2016 bids.
His online announcement amounts to a pre-emptive strike against efforts by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and allies of the 2012 GOP nominee, Mitt Romney , to lock in major donors or at least keep them on the sidelines.
Mr. Bush’s step toward a campaign also threatens to undermine the aspirations of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio , his onetime protégé, who shares the same home state and an overlapping political network there.
“I think Jeb is trying to clear the field,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a prominent Republican donor who worked in the White House for Mr. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush. “He’s now gotten out ahead of everyone else, and I think this may force other candidates to move earlier than they had wanted to.”
Mr. Bush’s potential candidacy also has implications for the expected Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His younger GOP rivals could try to make the case for going in a different direction by lumping Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton together as tired figures from the past. That argument, however, would lose its potency in a general election match-up between Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton. Read the rest of this entry »
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) November 12, 2014
The documentary, Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, features a clip of President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 Inaugural Address, where Bush discusses the need to “make kinder the face of the nation” with regard to “those who cannot free themselves of enslavement to whatever addiction—drugs, welfare, the demoralization that rules the slums.”