Joan Walsh in Salon caught what so many of us hoped we'd never have to see:
Actually, I think Obama, like all politicians, tells falsehoods all the time on policy issues. To take one example, I don't think he is a "fierce advocate for equality of gay and lesbian Americans." Past behavior belies this. Instead, I think he knows what he has to say to stay well positioned on LGBT issues and he will do some fraction of it for us, if it doesn't him cost too much. I don't consider that sort of posturing to be "lying" from a politician. Actual "lying" occurs when the politician asserts important things that are substantively untrue, knows it, and believes that the false statement is nonetheless necessary. Like Walsh, I think that was what we saw yesterday.
Withholding the photos is not the first and won't be the last dip by the Obama administration into the dark side. Apparently they've taken a decision to resuscitate the Bush-era kangaroo courts -- the so-called military commissions -- for Guantanamo inmates. Those are the lucky captives; the administration apparently intends to hold some large number of prisoners who have had no legal process at all in a black hole prison in Afghanistan. At home, they are hanging on for dear life to a "state secrets privilege" to deny people the chance to bring government misdeeds to court. With less notice, they are continuing the arbitrary anti-Muslim border policies of their predecessors, harassing visitors and citizens at entry and excluding a distinguished scholar in an apparent case of pure prejudice.
The ongoing allegiance to the dark side scares the crap out of so many of us who have supported Obama not only because it undermines the constitution, the historic rule of law, and chances for a more peaceful international order, but also because this administration came into office with such great prospects of doing real good for millions of us. We want universal health care, decent education, an economy that rewards its members, and a planet that humans can go on making civilization in. We want, and need, the good parts of Obama's program to succeed. And we don't want this attractive politician to fail.
Instead Obama's policies demonstrate that the President is likely to further mire us in a failed war of empire in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With no discernible end point and no exit strategy, that's a recipe for another failed presidency. Years of Republican battering about Democrats being weak on "national security" force any Democrat to prove he or she is "butch enough" to run a nice little war. The dark side stuff is the symbolic obeisance an aspiring warrior has to give to our authoritarians and military establishment.
So okay -- it's time to get used to some truths. We didn't elect a magician; we elected a very capable and attractive politician. He'll be as good a President for the citizens of this country as we make him. That means we -- the people who want a peaceful future and an equitable society -- don't get to go home and rest. We have work to do, as those who came before us have long known.