On virtually all the major civil liberties issues of the Bush era, the Obama administration has followed its predecessor’s example. Detention without trial has continued. Torturers will not be investigated. Warrantless surveillance of the citizenry goes on uninterrupted. What’s more, by vindicating these policies as a left-liberal Democrat, Obama has solidified them in American political culture, making them a bipartisan, regular feature of the U.S. national-security landscape. Under Bush, many of these policies were controversial. Now they are simply to be taken for granted. You don’t have to take my word for it. The ACLU seems to agree emphatically, with a worthwhile paper “Establishing a New Normal,” looking at the first year and a half of Obama’s reign and concluding that “[t]here is a real danger. . . that the Obama administration will preside over the creation of a ‘new normal.’”
This was mostly predictable, of course. When the party in power changes, one of the most reliable consequences is the entrenchment of the other party’s policies into the mainstream. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and the Republicans who followed made the New Deal and Great Society permanent. So too do the excesses of Republican rule become as bipartisan as apple pie once a Democrat has presided over the same excesses for a year or so.
cross-posted from The Beacon