Words of advice for 2016 hopefuls

Dec. 24, 2013 @ 05:56 PM

A little more than two years before Americans start casting votes for the next president, the Des Moines Register released a presidential-preference poll of Iowa voters last weekend.

Amazing, right?

Barack Obama is not yet a full year into his second four-year term. The congressional midterm elections are 11 months away. And the U.S. political machine is steaming toward settling who will replace Obama as the nation's 45th president.

As much as Obama may prefer to ignore it, his time in the Oval Office is ticking down.

Somebody else will have the chance to build up our hopes and then send them crashing to the ground. Or, examined from the other side of the ideological coin, confirm once more that the U.S. of A. is heading straight to heck in a handbasket.

For the record, the big winners in the Des Moines Register poll were Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Paul Ryan.

Here's a little unsolicited advice for Ryan, Clinton and the rest of those 2016 hopefuls and their campaign strategists: Read Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker article, "State of Deception: Why won't the President rein in the intelligence community?"

In 12,000 words, Lizza sums where the nation's citizens stand in relation to privacy from government intelligence-gathering agencies. Yet, the big takeaway for candidates is embedded in the article, a reminder that those seemingly consequence-free campaign promises can be difficult to live up to.

To wit, Lizza recalls what Obama said about the Patriot Act before he was president.

The act, which supporters said would better protect the United States from terrorists in a post-9/11 world, was "shoddy and dangerous," Obama said in 2003.

During his much-celebrated 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama, who was then a candidate for U.S. Senate representing Illinois, said, "We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States," a reference to a part of the Patriot Act that allowed the feds to examine library records without a warrant.

In 2005 when the Patriot Act was up for renewal, Sen. Obama joined several colleagues in writing a letter concerning one provision of the law, Section 215. The senators wrote it granted "government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans. We believe the government should be required to convince a judge that the records they are seeking have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy."

Among the senators joining Obama in opposition were John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska.

Hagel and Kerry are now members of the Obama administration. Hagel is secretary of the Defense Department. Kerry is secretary of the State Department.

The Obama administration, as Lizza lays out in deep detail, has mostly kept intact the same Bush administration surveillance practices that once so disturbed candidate Obama and other members of his Cabinet.

Obama continues to profess "a healthy skepticism" of U.S. government programs keeping an eye on U.S. citizens.

"In practice," Lizza writes, "Obama has not wavered from the position taken by the N.S.A.'s lawyers" and other supporters of mass surveillance.

Bob Davis is associate publisher/editor of The Anniston Star