"the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties."
NPR then had Turley on as guest to elaborate and take calls. Here's a short transcript of note:
Not all civil libertarians have had trouble coming to grips with this reality. The partisan Democrat civil libertarians, yes. They have put on the blinders in a huge way. Team first! Rah rah!
JONATHAN TURLEY: It is a strong language, but I think civil libertarians are coming to grips with what is really a building disaster for our movement, and it's been a rather difficult process. You know, I have a large civil liberties blog, and there's a lot of soul-searching among civil libertarians about what exactly happened. But we are engaging in a sense of collective denial when we deal with President Obama.
DONVAN: You mean you're not talking about it publicly.
TURLEY: Yeah. And I think that's part of the purpose of this column, is to address the fact that President Obama is a perfect nightmare when it comes to civil liberties. He not only adopted most of President Bush's policies in the civil liberties areas when it comes to terrorism, but he actually expanded on them. He outdid George Bush.
A partisan Libertarian such as myself began calling out the President within six weeks of his inauguration. It was that obvious almost immediately. The dialogue is really excellent.
This is really good radio, and I know that "Talk of the Nation" is typically like this, with good, measured guests and dialogue, beyond the soundbytes. I've generally had a hard time listening to it, because it is so regularly left-of-center. It's not that I need confirmation bias in all things, it's just that I similarly don't need to listen to predictably oppositional radio. I mean, I could listen to Limbaugh as easily, and don't. But the best political radio (or other media) is oppositional in nature, taking on the watchdog role. It's good to see and hear NPR start to do this a bit more. It excelled at it when Bush was in office.
TURLEY: Well, certainly. I supported Barack Obama. I wasn't very quiet about my support. I thought he was going to be a refreshing change to George Bush. But what has happened is that we have an election that's become a single-issue election, and that issue is Barack Obama. And he's an icon to both sides. But what's happened to the civil liberties movement is that we generally have a pendulum swing back in favor of civil liberties, which we were building towards after the Bush administration.
Polls were showing that citizens were opposed to many of the abuses, that they wanted to see more protections, and Barack Obama really rowed that way. He portrayed himself as a civil libertarian. And then when he proved to adopt many of Bush's positions and adopt even worse positions in some regards, it split the base of the civil liberties movement. There are many people that frankly cannot get themselves to oppose Barack Obama. They make a lot of excuse for him.
DONVAN: You mean emotionally they can't do it?
TURLEY: They can't emotionally, politically, personally. They just have a very difficult time opposing a man who's an icon and has made history - the first black president, but also the guy that replaced George Bush. And the result is something akin to the Stockholm syndrome, where you've got this identification with your captor. I mean, the Democratic Party is split, civil libertarians are split, and the Democratic Party itself is now viewed by most of libertarians as very hostile toward civil liberties.
Senators and members of the House, it turns out, were aware of many of these abuses and never informed people.
Well, into the 3rd year of Obama's term is better late than never.