Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
It’s become so bad, even Obama may be giving up on Obama.
From moderates to radicals, the left is abandoning Obama in droves, and a statement from the president might suggest even he has already given up on himself.
While commenting Friday on his latest scandal, the NSA’s spying on the phone records of millions of Americans, the president seemed to predict his own impeachment, saying he “will leave office sometime in the next three and half years.”
It may be sooner than later, the way he’s going. Virtually everyone on the left is howling over the Obama administration, from the New York Times to Al Gore.
The Times may have delivered the most serious blow to Obama, given the enormous credibility it has with the left.
Its Thursday editorial condemned his administration for collecting phone call data from millions of Americans and starkly stated, “the administration had lost all credibility.”
That was a dramatic break between the leading leftist newspaper and the president it has supported so strongly and consistently during his two terms.
The Times editorial board must have had second thoughts because it later revised the bold statement, toning it down a few hours later to read the “administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.”
But other leftists certainly are not toning down their scathing criticism of the president.
Al Gore called the actions of the Obama administration “obscenely outrageous.”
After it was reported Wednesday the National Security Agency has been using a secret court order to collect the phone records of everyone on the Verizon network, the former vice-president turned on the administration.
Gore blasted the Obama administration with a tweet reading, “In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?”
The Huffington Post took the satirical route and delivered perhaps the unkindest cut of all, for a leftist, comparing Obama to former president George W. Bush. The website posted a picture on the front page photo-shopped to depict Obama as a hybrid of Bush.
Liberal pundit Bob Beckel may have delivered the most extreme criticism, nearly calling Obama a fascist.
“I think it is one of the most outrageous examples of the stepping on the Constitution I’ve heard. They have no right to the phone records. … It is illegal, it is unconstitutional, and it is deplorable. I didn’t like it when they did it during the Bush administration, and I don’t like when they’re doing it now,” Beckel said on Fox News.
“They have taken this Patriot Act, which I think was the most dangerous act passed, and they have taken it and abused it,” he added.
“You talk about fascism? You’re getting damn close to it,” Beckel concluded.
The leftist institution the ACLU was already upset with the administration over its policy of using drones for assassinations, including the targeting of Americans.
Now, the ACLU sees the administration as Big Brother and its use of the NSA as even more alarming than the novel “1984.”
“It’s a program in which some untold number of innocent people have been put under the constant surveillance of government agents. It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies,” Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement.
Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, called for a full investigation by Congress, saying, “Such extreme secrecy is inconsistent with our democratic values of open government and accountability.”
An influential leftist has even written an editorial calling for fellow liberals to band together against the Obama administration.
Julie Roginsky served as a political strategist for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg and other Democrats.
On Friday, she wrote on the Fox News website, “Every progressive with even a shred of moral consistency should side with the New York Times against the White House.”
But she wasn’t referring to just the latest scandal, the one involving the NSA.
“The events of the past month – from the Associated Press subpoena to the James Rosen search warrant to the revelation that our government has been indiscriminately collecting phone records data – have forced liberals to make a choice between complacency and outrage, between keeping silent because one of our own is in the White House and calling him out on betraying the principles for which we have fought for so long,” wrote Roginsky.
She did not stop there.
“If this White House truly wanted to level with the American people, the president would have gone on national television to explain the necessity of these programs and the trade-offs between civil liberties and security he believes are consistent with his policies.
“That he has failed to do this for nearly six years is evidence of the fact that there is likely no excuse for such blanket surveillance upon the American public, aside from the usual ‘it’s necessary to keep us safe’ bromide.”
Roginsky plainly feels betrayed and perhaps that’s why her criticism is so bitter.
“As progressives, we cannot remain silent when a president, whom we worked hard to elect and defend at every turn, betrays the very values upon which he ran five years ago.”
The tide has been turning against Obama ever since congressional committees began hearings in May on the slew of scandals dogging the administration.
Those scandals involved the murder of four Americans (including Ambassador Chris Stevens) at a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in a terrorist attack the administration falsely portrayed as a protest over a video; the IRS targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status; and the Justice Department secretly snooping on the phone records of journalists.
Leftists were already either abandoning the president or preparing to give up on him before this latest round of snooping scandals even broke.
On May 16, leftist talk radio host Bill Press called for the firing of Attorney General Eric Holder over the secret collection of the phone records of the AP and Fox News reporter James Rosen.
He didn’t mince words in a tweet that read “What ‘breach of national security’ are we talking about re the AP story? It’s BS and Holder should be fired.”
Liberal talk show host Chris Matthews had already soured on the president a day earlier, saying Obama “obviously likes giving speeches more than he does running the executive branch.”
“What part of the presidency does Obama like? He doesn’t like dealing with other politicians — that means his own cabinet, that means members of the congress, either party. He doesn’t particularly like the press…. He likes to write the speeches, likes to rewrite what Favreau and the others wrote for the first draft,” Matthews continued.
“He doesn’t seem to like being an executive,” pondered Matthews.
On May 18, WND reported how Matthews blasted testimony from former IRS chief Steve Miller, who suggested the agency’s behavior was inappropriate but denied any political targeting.
“That Mr. Miller guy,” Matthews said, “It’s like he didn’t see what he knew people certainly right, left and center could see, that when you target particular groups, you’re targeting particular groups. I mean, if this were on the other foot, and this was a George W. administration, they were targeting groups that were calling themselves progressives, I would say it’s prima facie evidence of targeting. I don’t think it’s complicated.”
WND also reported, even CNN talk-show host Piers Morgan paused in his relentless crusade for stricter gun-control laws to comment, “I’ve had some of the pro-gun lobbyists on here, saying to me, ‘Well, the reason we need to be armed is because of tyranny from our own government,’ and I’ve always laughed at them. I said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous! Your government won’t turn itself on you.
“But, actually, this is vaguely tyrannical behavior by the American government,” Morgan concluded. “I think what the IRS did is bordering on tyrannical behavior. I think what the Department of Justice has done to the AP is bordering on tyrannical behavior.”
An Investor’s Business Daily editorial commented, “Many in the dominant press are indeed turning. Politico ran a chilling story headlined ‘The IRS Wants You to Share Everything’; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell accuses Obama of ‘the most outrageous excesses I’ve seen’ in her years in journalism, going back before Watergate; the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank accuses Obama of ‘a full frontal assault on the First Amendment.’”
“Let me tell you how bad it’s gotten,” NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno quipped. “Fox News has changed its slogan from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘See, I Told You So!’”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow further noticed it’s not just the media, but also congressional allies jumping off the Obama bandwagon. When Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced plans to retire in 2014, he became the sixth Democrat to step down two years from now instead of running for re-election.
“Tell us if something is wrong there,” Maddow said rhetorically. “What is the secret about this place that has you fleeing like rats from a sinking ship?”
Even Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bristled over the AP phone-records story, telling Salon he “can’t really defend the Department of Justice at all” and, “I just think this has been handled so wrong.”
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., agreed, telling MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, “I don’t think anyone truly believes that the president has given a sufficient answer for America, much less our press [about the AP scandal]. The president has to come forward and share why he did not alert the press that they were going to do this. He has to tell Americans, including me, what was this national security question? You just can’t raise the flag and expect us just to salute it every time without any reason, and the same thing applies to the IRS. We’ve got to give him an opportunity to root out any wrongdoing, whether it’s just negligence or it’s criminal.”
The Daily Beast – a website merged with Newsweek – ran a column from James Goodale, the attorney who defended the New York Times against President Richard Nixon in the famous Pentagon Papers trial, who asserted, “President Barack H. Obama’s outrageous seizure of the Associated Press’s phone records, allegedly to discover sources of leaks, should surprise no one. Obama has relentlessly pursued leakers ever since he became president. He is fast becoming the worst national security press president ever, and it may not get any better.”
In an interview with the New York Observer, Goodale added, “Obama has all these things that he’s done to the press on national security matters that Nixon never did.”
Lanny J. Davis, a former crisis manager for President Clinton who admits he voted for and backs Obama, told National Public Radio, “[Obama's] crisis-management communications team is absent without leave. Ever since we lost the message on health care, I’ve wondered if there’s anybody there trying to get out in front on the facts.”
NPR further reported Davis saying the IRS story goes to the heart of government abuse of power: “The president of the United States should hold a press conference and commit to a full, 100-percent investigation in concert with the Republican leadership of the House and say, ‘I want to have on my desk the list of anybody who recommended doing this. In the government, in the White House, or anywhere else.’”
Time political columnist Joe Klein wrote of the IRS news, even before the AP scandal broke, “Yet again, we have an example of Democrats simply not managing the government properly and with discipline. … This is just poisonous at a time of skepticism about the efficacy of government. … [Obama's] unwillingness to concentrate – and I mean concentrate obsessively – on making sure that government is managed efficiently will be part of his legacy.”
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post penned similar criticism of Obama. “President Passerby needs urgently to become a participant in his presidency,” Milbank wrote, arguing Obama was reacting to the scandals with a portrayed ignorance reminiscent of “just some bloke on a bar stool, getting his information from the evening news.”
Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press leveled his criticism at White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at a May 14 press briefing: “The White House right now is confronting a confluence of issues – Benghazi talking points, IRS reviews of political groups, Justice Department review of journalists’ phone records. And in every instance, either the president or you have placed the burden of responsibility someplace else. On the Benghazi talking points, it’s been political motivations on the Hill. On the IRS, it’s been the bureaucrats at the IRS. And on the Justice Department issue, yesterday in your statement you said those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department. But it is the president’s administration, so I wonder, doesn’t responsibility for setting tone and setting direction ultimately rest with the president on these matters?”
Other reporters at the same press briefing passed up softball questions for tougher lines of inquiry, including whether news of the IRS scandal was “withheld until after the election,” whether or not the AP subpoena’s constituted an “overreach,” whether the administration “might be hiding something,” if the IRS is being “truthful” and how the president feels about “being compared to President Nixon.” The press corps also grilled Carney relentlessly on the president’s reputation for prosecuting those who leak information to the press.
Michigan’s Rep. Sander Levin, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in hearings before the committee the IRS and its employees “have completely failed the American people” by “singling out organizations for review based on their name or political views, rather than their activity. … All of us are angry about this on behalf of the nation.”