David Kirkpatrick

March 1, 2008

Obama, the civil libertarian

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:00 am

Jeffrey Rosen’s TRB column in the February 27, 2208, New Republic is about how Obama would be the first truly civil libertarian president. That column really sums up what I like about Obama. As a libertarian, civil and fiscal, I don’t agree with a lot of his ideas, but I love his honest and strong civil libertarian bent. After the Bush 43 years this approach to personal liberty and privacy would be a welcome change.

And as far as government spending goes, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess he’d be less “liberal” than Bush. Sure Obama’s spending will focus on different areas than Bush’s, but in pure government expansion it’s almost impossible for Obama, or any other “spend thrift liberal,” to match Bush’s woeful record. Plus an Obama presidency might push the GOP to look deep into the dark night and find a core that seems to be lost in Rovian factions and coalitions. The Rove gloat of creating a generation of GOP rule died, oh, about two or three years in.

All that being said, I sincerely hope Obama wins either Texas or Ohio and forces Clinton out of the Democratic nomination race. Of course that would also involve Clinton conceding with grace. An outcome still in serious doubt at this time.

Here is Rosen’s lede:

If Barack Obama were to win the Democratic nomination and the White House, he would be, among other things, our first civil libertarian president. This is clear not just from his lifetime rating on the ACLU’s scorecard (82 percent compared to John McCain’s 25 percent). It is clear from the fact that civil liberties have been among his most passionate interests–as a constitutional law professor, state legislator, and senator. On the campaign trail, he has been unapologetic about these enthusiasms. In New Hampshire, I heard him end a rousing stump speech by promising the cheering crowd, “We will close Guantánamo, we will restore habeas corpus, we will have a president who will respect and obey the Constitution.” Has a political consultant ever urged a candidate to brandish habeas corpus?