Thursday, June 20, 2013

Obama does not deserve to be compared with Nixon (as Macleans does)

Macleans magazine has a story this week linking Obama to Nixon as the sneakiest president since the Republican resigned.
It is such a specious premise that, in one sense, hardly needs refuting.
On the other hand, clearly the editors of the magazine decided to jump on the bandwagon of both telephone intelligence from reporters' phone calls, as well as the disclosures of Edward Snowden about intelligence gathering, previously under wraps, added to the disclosures about the Internal Revenue Service's program to interrogate applicants for tax exempt status as social welfare agencies, and not political activism organizations, the recent publicity of the American drone program attacking suspected terrorists (along with "collateral damage" of innocents). The list makes for quite damaging reading by the White House; however, it is exclusively the sum total of the president's staff, or his decision-making that provides the fodder for the attack.
A republican, is now reported to have been intimately engaged in the IRS debacle, and in fact, more left-leaning organizations were denied tax exempt status than were Tea Party affiliates. The justice department may well have over-reached in the gathering of intelligence on reporters, and the National Security Administration's PRISM program has been demonstrated to have prevented or thwarted many prospective terrorist plots against the United States. The drone program, while expanded under Obama, has been brought to the attention of the public by this president whose approach is to curtail further use of the program, and to work with congress to develop restrictions that would limit their deployment by future presidents, as well as the current occupant of the White House.
To compare a paranoid president, best with the demons of his own mind (Nixon) and the political enemies he thought hated his person, including many in the media, whose names he chronicled on his own private hit list, and the cover-up he engineered over the Watergate burglary, and the contempt he held for too many public servants of both parties, with the current president is not only unfair in the extreme but pretentious and specious as well.
Obama, far from paranoid, is attempting to regain the upper hand in the public mind for the Democrats in fighting terror, given the history of public confidence in the Republican Party for national security. His administration has not only accomplished that political goal, but has protected the people of the U.S. through consistent, targetting and successful decapitation of many of the leaders of the Al Qaeda group. His is consistently taking the high road in public discussion of his political foes, in spite of their consistent thwarting of any proposals he sends to the Congress. The nuances of the many complex issues facing Obama, none of which were facing the Nixon presidency, have, admittedly, imposed a more stringent picture of the reality of the United States' position (and the threats against her) on the president, compared with the more idealistic "candidate Obama," of 2008 and prior to his entering the White House. That development is hardly surprising, but, as he told Charlie Rose this week, "I am not Dick Cheney" and for the Canadian national magazine even to infer a positive comparison with "tricky Richard Nixon" demonstrates a debased professionalism among the editorial staff, including the editor, whose eyes and mind had to have vetted the piece before it went to press. Has honest, authentic and reasoned journalism been replaced with headline-gushing grabs for sales and for advertising dollars at Macleans? There is clearly an argument that can be made to that end.
As a Canadian, I am embarrassed that what was once a proud national magazine has stooped so low, as to feature this comparison as a headline on its front cover, even though the actual copy in the story is somewhat more moderate and modest.

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