It was then‐Sen. Obama who in 2005 lambasted the PATRIOT Act as a mortal threat to constitutional liberties, and who two years later during his presidential run said he would end warrantless wiretapping of Americans. Instead, Obama went on to urge renewal of the controversial and ineffective surveillance that Edward Snowden subsequently exposed during Obama’s second term in office, and then sought Snowden’s prosecution for exposing the very warrantless surveillance Obama had previously pledged to end.
In response to the 2008 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report about the CIA’s rendition and torture program, the newly elected President Obama admitted that “we tortured some folks” but then told Americans to “look forwards, not backwards”—not firing a single CIA employee involved in the torture program, including the Agency’s now‐current director, Gina Haspel.
Obama arguably violated the Constitution and the War Powers Act by ordering military action against Libya in 2011, despite no attack by Libya on U.S. interests or personnel anywhere in the world prior to Obama’s green‐lighting a military campaign without congressional consultation, much less authorization.
Obama’s constitutional overreach on immigration resulted in a deadlocked Supreme Court effectively vitiating his executive order, further setting back efforts to bring actual reform to America’s broken immigration system.
America’s 44th president set all too many precedents for executive power grabs and miscarriages of justice, as so many of his predecessors did before him. Obama’s lack of self‐awareness regarding his own role, and that of prior chief executives, in setting the stage for Trump is what makes his hypocrisy in this episode all the more amazing. And the idea that his running mate and vice president for eight years is behaving any differently now—consider the Tara Reade episode—would be laughable were the stakes this November not so incredibly high.