I've been looking at the Snowden situation and asking what seems to be an obvious question: What's going to happen as a result of Snowden's actions? The conclusion I've come to is that there's too much support for the national security state in both parties (and in the general public) to expect any real change to the surveillance regime, so Snowden isn't going to accomplish much (if anything) of what he wants to accomplish. On the other hand, the entire affair can be shoehorned into the GOP's Obama-is-evil narrative -- or, actually, into a couple of such narratives. First, the right told us that Obama the NSA snooper was the same evil Big Brother who used the IRS as his Stasi. Now, with Snowden fleeing, Obama is the feckless guy who won't defend America.
Watch how today's Washington Post reaches for Drudge and Fox Nation links by shaping a Snowden story around the latter right-wing narrative:
Obama's hands-off approach to extraditing Snowden draws criticismOh, perfect: the Post sends opiates straight into the right's favorite vein. Google "where was obama the night of benghazi attack" and you get hits with that title from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin; you get The Washington Times crowing that "Obama made no phone calls on night of Benghazi attack, White House says"; you get posts about the night-of-Benghazi speculations of John Boehner and Charles Krauthammer; and you even get deranged PUMA blogger Kevin DuJan of HillBuzz writing "Barack Obama Was High on Cocaine During 'The Missing Hours' of the Benghazi Attack Last September." And that's just Page 1 of the Google search results.
It was bright and sunny in Washington on Saturday as President Obama stepped out of the White House in flip-flops and khaki shorts to hit the golf course with his buddies.
At the same time, officials throughout his administration were scrambling to keep one of America's most-wanted fugitives from evading extradition in Hong Kong.
The juxtaposition illustrates the hands-off approach Obama has taken -- in public, at least -- to the government's efforts to bring Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former contractor who exposed classified details of U.S. surveillance programs, back to the United States to face charges of revealing government secrets.
Conservatives say Obama's posture in the case provides further evidence of a commander in chief whose credibility abroad has declined and who shrinks from presidential leadership at moments of international crisis, including in response to last fall's attacks in Benghazi, Libya....
Oh, and golf! While Snowden was fleeing, Obama went out to play golf! The right loves that meme.
Roger Ailes is seeing starbursts.
Quoted most prominently in the Post story is Eliot Cohen -- Romney adviser, founding member of the Project for a New American Century and member of George W. Bush's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee (a position he got on the recommendation of Richard Perle). Snowden/Greenwald fans, am I getting across to you the fact that the people making hay of all this aren't exactly your allies on the subject of civil liberties and foreign policy?
It's as if Snowden and Greenwald went into the town square, pointed at Obama, said "Hey, that guy's evil! Let's go get him!" -- and now we learn to our horror that the people most eager to grab a truncheon and join the mob are folks who don't have a deep and abiding commitment to civil liberties and human rights. Nobody could have predicted!
And on the subject of Snowden's flight: Look, I don't know why the administration was so trusting of the governments of Hong Kong and China. But it seems to me that an America bankrupted by Reagan and Bush tax cuts, Bush wars, and a near-depression brought on by deregulation doesn't have much leverage with its bankers. The blame goes way back.