This is a tale of two presidents the one we hope we have and the one we actually have. It is also a tale of two kinds of violence the surgical and the indiscriminate and how the latter blurs the distinction between self-defense and something far more sinister.
This story began last year, when the White House told the New York Times that President Obama was personally overseeing a kill list and an ongoing drone bombing campaign against alleged terrorists, including American citizens. Back then, much of the public language was carefully crafted to reassure us that our countrys military power was not being abused.
In the Times report which was carefully sculpted by Obama administration leaks the paper characterized the bombing program as targeted killing with precision weapons. It also described the care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets and claimed that as a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the president believes that he should take moral responsibility for assuring such strikes are as precise as possible.
The unstated deal being offered to America was simple: Accept a president claiming unprecedented despotic authority in exchange for that president promising to comport himself as an enlightened despot one who seeks to limit the scope of Americas ongoing violence.
Many of the presidents partisan supporters would never have agreed to such a bargain if the executive in question were a Republican. They would have expressed outrage at news that, according to the Times, the president was count(ing) all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants even when those males happen to be innocent civilians. But because it was a Democratic commander in chief, most liberals tacitly agreed to the deal, reassuring themselves that this was a president who would only use violence in the most narrow ways.