GUEST COLUMN, Brian Darling, townhall.com
Hypocrisy is not new to politics, yet it seems like many politicians have no shame in virtue signaling something today that they were reluctant to oppose a few years ago.
Take, for example, the high profile killing of General Qasem Soleimani. Democrats would have had no problem had President Obama used a drone to kill him during his presidency. One needs to look back at the supportive Democratic caucus in the House and Senate during the Obama years to see the evidence of the widespread Democratic backing for targeted killings of people designated by the U.S. government as terrorists.
President Obama, his former staff and political supporters have no standing to criticize President Donald J. Trump for strikes against terrorists. Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic on December 23, 2016, “President Obama presided over a drone strike for the first time shortly after taking office, on January 22, 2009. The strike missed its target, and Newsweekreported that Obama was made aware almost immediately that innocents died in the attack. By the end of 2009 the CIA had already conducted its 100th drone strike in Pakistan.” No high-profile Democrats raised the idea of impeaching Obama or complained about the lack of consultation, because, for Democrats, Obama could do no wrong.
This type of partisanship is one reason why the American people think Washington is full of partisan hacks. Gallup’s polling over the past year of Congressional approval has disapproval of Congress at 79% to 68% and approval at a dismal 17% to 27%. One reason for the persistent dislike of Congress is that the American people see partisanship replacing rational debate. The American people are burned out with both parties when they adopt talking points to suit the debate of the day. One needs to look no further than the Clinton versus the Trump impeachment debate to see examples in both parties of shape shifting politicians making arguments today that completely contradict their own words from the Clinton impeachment.
Democrats today are besides themselves that they were not consulted about the killing of Soleimani, yet Democratic President Obama was secretive and did not allow oversight of similar targeted killings. Today these same hypocrites in the Democratic Party demagogue and claim unprecedented power grabs by the Republican Trump administration. Obama kept drone strikes classified and, according to Friedersdorf, “chose to permit killings outside the greater Afghanistan war zone, in countries with which the U.S. was not at war.” Democrats had no problem with targeted killings not authorized by any Authorization of the Use of Force, nor any other Congressional consent, for carrying out that many consider acts of war today.
A handful of Republicans were outraged by President Obama’s “Terror Tuesdays” where meetings were held in the White House to determine the fate of designated terrorists. As reported by the New York Times on May 29, 2012, the terrorists were pulled together with “mug shots and brief biographies resembled a high school yearbook layout. Several were Americans. Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.” The president would oversee these meetings where they would play judge and jury on the fate of many foreign nationals targeted for extra-judicial drone strikes. If one were to ask a Democratic politician today why it was acceptable for President Obama, but not OK for President Trump, good luck waiting for an answer that makes sense.
I worked for Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) when he raised this issue and the possibility of the Obama administration using a drone on American soil to kill an American citizen without a trial back in 2013 and the American people responded. Now it seems that members like Sen. Paul, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are the only ones willing to stand up for the idea that Congress, not the president, declares war. Democratic Rep. and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) expressed support for drone strikes during the Obama years, but opposed “counterproductive wars of regime change” during the Obama presidency. She was the lone voice in a party that expressed full throated support for all of the Obama administration’s actions in Syria and Libya.
I guarantee that the virtue signaling Democrats of today would have been cheering and spiking the football had President Obama been the one to kill Gen. Soleimani. The American people are sick and tired of partisanship in Washington, and they just want a rational foreign policy that reduces our foreign entanglements and looks at the acts of a commander in chief through a rational, not partisan, lens.