Renewing the Patriot Act, Obama believes ‘his being president is good for the world regardless of what he does’

David Bromwich on Obama’s renewal of the Patriot Act, at LRB. Excerpt (headline is elsewhere in piece, go read it):


the responsibility for ‘protection’ of Americans (a paraconstitutional notion innovated by George W. Bush and picked up by Obama) involves an all-absorbing concern with safety against ‘the terror threat’…

Obama apparently has come to share with Bush the belief about Americans that (in Bush’s words) ‘we are good’. But the danger of the surveillance state has nothing to do with the goodness or badness of the American people or our unseen protectors. It has to do with the psychology of power, and what power does to life. That power tends to corrupt is a law of human nature that does not alter whether one favours the power to punish the guilty or to protect the innocent. Corruption goes nicely with the idea of enhancing the secret powers of the state, for benevolent and protective purposes, on behalf of a people who are supposed incapable of judging how to protect themselves. The presumption of the knowing protector could be read in the upright posture of George W. Bush as he announced the retaliatory launching of American troops into war after war. It can now be read in the imposing sobriety of Barack Obama as he speaks of ‘targeted assaults’ by special forces, or of American ‘kinetic activity’ in support of air strikes by America’s allies. The embrace of protection goes with an unconscious love of euphemism.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 3 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Citizen says:

    What did Obama study in undergraduate school? Did he even read George Orwell’s books? He taught constitutional law at the U of Chicago–yet he’s fine with this Patriot Act… he’s not George Bush Jr. But what is he? He seems to feel real comfortable with a police state. I doubt his mother would approve. He seems to think the laws and policies he’s implementing will never impact him or those he loves. Obviously he doesn’t think all Americans are good–he told us so, dissing those of us who “cling to their bibles and guns.” And he spoke out in a knee jerk against that cop before he knew anything except the cop was white and the professor was black… Can a person be more in live with himself than Obama? Narcissism is unbecoming no matter what color your skin is. And it’s horrible in a POTUS.

  2. Les says:

    Because “we are good” it is okay for “we” to torture.

  3. Chaos4700 says:

    I find it ironic that the one shining example that mainstream Republicans could attack Obama on being the current architect in chief for big government, they are silent.