We’ve been in the Silly Season for a while now, and as we get down to the wire and the polls tighten, we enter what I call the “Do You Want Mitt Romney To Win?!” phase of the election. Partisan lines have been drawn, the tribal mind emerges, and calculations about the lesser of two evils have been heavily weighed. Any mention of things detrimental to that candidate now pose a serious risk of outright electing his challenger. Allegedly.
As a cartoonist you just try to treat these weeks like any other and not pull any punches - I’d feel like a hack if I did and I’m not getting paid enough to shill. A number of people have made the case to me that, a Romney presidency being much worse, we need to wait until after election day to unload on Obama about drones and other matters we won’t solve in two weeks.
But the Obama camp is sure making that difficult. This week, Robert Gibbs was confronted about the killing of 16-year-old US citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, son Anwar al-Awlaki who was targeted for death by robot in Yemen. Abdulrahman wasn’t on the kill list and is a minor, to boot. Gibbs’ answer: “have a far more responsible father.”
Even more troubling, the Washington Post has run an incredible series reporting on an ever-expanding kill list and unlimited theater of war with “no end in sight.” If you are willing to give Obama a pass on this, consider the precedent he’s setting for future presidents. Spencer Ackerman sums it up nicely at Wired:
Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that's his legacy. Administration officials embraced drone strikes because they viewed them as an acceptable alternative to conventional ground warfare, which it considered too costly and too public, but the tactic has now become practically the entire strategy. Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations writes that Obama's predecessors in the Bush administration "were actually much more conscious and thoughtful about the long-term implications of targeted killings," because they feared the political consequences that might come when the U.S. embraces something at least superficially similar to assassination. Whomever follows Obama in the Oval Office can thank him for proving those consequences don't meaningfully exist — as he or she reviews the backlog of names on the Disposition Matrix.