“Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy?”

by Zack Beauchamp

Greenwald is infuriated by a new poll showing strong Democratic liberal support for continuing Bush-era counterterrorism tactics:

I’ve often made the case that one of the most consequential aspects of the Obama legacy is that he has transformed what was once known as “right-wing shredding of the Constitution” into bipartisan consensus, and this is exactly what I mean. When one of the two major parties supports a certain policy and the other party pretends to oppose it — as happened with these radical War on Terror policies during the Bush years — then public opinion is divisive on the question, sharply split. But once the policy becomes the hallmark of both political parties, then public opinion becomes robust in support of it…That’s what Barack Obama has done to these Bush/Cheney policies: he has, as Jack Goldsmith predicted he would back in 2009, shielded and entrenched them as standard U.S. policy for at least a generation, and (by leading his supporters to embrace these policies as their own) has done so with far more success than any GOP President ever could have dreamed of achieving.

Ari Kohen tries to be more understanding:

[I]t’s important to note that some people will make trade-offs and some people will plainly and simply rally behind the leader of their party. I don’t think these people are repulsive, as Greenwald suggests their hypocrisy makes them. I just think they’re ordinary Americans who are faced with unfolding events and who are balancing some things they believe against other things they believe, sometimes more and sometimes less successfully.

It's also possible, of course, that many voters don't actually have well-formed opinions about Guantanamo and civil liberties. Like most Americans, they prioritize domestic issues and have comparatively unformed beliefs on foreign policy. This could cause them to take their cues from the elected officials they've come to trust as a consequence of domestic likemindedness. This probably isn't the best way to form opinoins, but there's a reasonable chance it's the way things work. Carly M. Jacobs gives a psychological perspective on the debate along similar lines.