Relativism

I need to stop reading Facebook. It’s bad for my blood pressure. It’s not my friends but sadly some of their friends which cause me such heartburn.

Usually these days it’s about wearing masks. Some of my friends have friends who think that either 1) wearing masks is an infringement upon their liberties, 2) a plot by the libs to make them look ridiculous, or 3) totally unnecessary, or 4) all of the above. I just snort at them and move on.

But sometimes there are friends of friends who I think are intelligent (and who, their conservative views notwithstanding, I respect) who say absolutely awful things. Last night I hit something which would have had me screaming had I not been afraid of waking other people in my house.

It started with a meme purporting to show all the terrible things Obama did with the implication that he was just as bad as Trump. The list ran from the truly horrible (Fast and Furious), to the sad but overblown (the administration’s actions during Benghazi), to the actually good (DACA). I would have shrugged it off except for the guy who said “Obama did bad things; Trump did bad things. Comparing them doesn’t do anyone any good.”

What the everloving hell?

That is whataboutism. That is moral equivalency. That is intellectually bankrupt. To shrug off any comparison between the two is to ignore the fundamental ways in which this country has been damaged by the current President.

Obama did some bad things, I’ll admit. The commenter and I probably disagree on what those bad things were (other than Fast and Furious), but even though I am a fan I can admit he and his Administration were not perfect by a very long shot.

But Obama never used the Presidency for his and his family’s enrichment.

Obama did not have his Administration toss out as many environmental protections as possible, to the benefit of wealthy cronies.

Obama respected expertise, be it from the intelligence officials or scientists. When presented with an issue by either of those, he acted appropriately. He never pretended he was smarter than people who had made their field their lives’ work.

Obama didn’t want government scientists to change their results to conform to his political views.

Obama didn’t undermine citizens’ respect for government by lying — demonstrably — time after time after time. (Fun fact: of the 814 statements of Donald Trump reviewed by fact-checking site Politifact, seventy percent of them were mostly false, false, or Pants on Fire. Of the 602 statements of Barack Obama that they reviewed, that number was twenty-three percent.)

Obama did not ask a foreign power for help in the election. Not to mention help from an authoritarian dictator who had every reason to undermine American society.

Obama did not seek dirt on a political opponent as a condition for helping a country.

Most importantly, Obama never posed a threat to representative democracy.

Obama never spoke out against a free press.

Obama respected the separation of powers. When Congress sent a subpoena to present or former Administration officials, they showed up. (Just ask anyone who sat through the eleven hours that Hillary Clinton was grilled on Benghazi.) They did not ignore them.

Obama never inflamed partisan passions by his actions. He never held important meetings at the White House where the members of Congress from the other party were not invited.

Obama did not speak as though the Supreme Court was a lapdog. He did not insult justices who did not agree with him.

Most corrosively, Obama did not view the Department of Justice as his own fiefdom, to be used to protect his friends and punish his perceived enemies. Obama respected the independence of the DOJ and the FBI (or James Comey would have never had that press conference that may well have cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency).

All of that, and so much more.

It does not help to dwell a long time on Obama. That I’ll agree. But from time to time it’s important to remember the difference between the two men, if for no other reason than to remind us what we’ve lost.

Or if comparisons to Obama are just too much, how about comparisons to Richard Nixon?

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