by Max Brantley
This theme will be coming to you shortly, if it hasn't already, from a right-wing radio show, Fox News and even mainstream sources.
A Politico piece asks "What if George W. Bush had done that?" It runs through a list of actions by President Obama on which it suggests he's received a pass from critics. These range from policy (assassinations abroad) to politics (endorsing Super PAC use and courting CEOs) to private activities (golfing). Bush was savaged, goes the theme, Obama gets off with, at best, some gentle remonstrance.
There's an element of truth in this. Obama has been most disappointing on some bedrock issues — from spying on U.S. citizens to terminal justice in pursuit of enemies. But, come on. We know the answers if Bush had done the same. He did and the Republicans cheered him for it. He enjoyed even some left-wing support, notably the bogus case for war in Iraq.
A better question or two go unasked in the Josh Gerstein piece:
* What if Bush had pushed — as several of his Republican presidential predecessors did — health insurance mandates as a path to universal coverage?
* What if Bush had been black, his middle name was Hussein and he spent childhood years in Indonesia?
Generally speaking, the notion that Obama has been treated easily is laughable.