On the Blog of Rights over at the ACLU, Suzanne Ito took a shot at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, titled The ACLU and the "Professional Left."
As you might've heard, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been denigrating what he called the “professional left” – those who have been trying to hold the Obama administration to the commitments it made in its early days.I don't think that's the case at all. "Professional Left," the way Gibbs used it, had nothing whatsoever to do with those who are merely trying to hold the administration accountable. Instead, it referred to those on the left who constantly complain without ever recognizing anything good that the White House and this President has done.
The ACLU clearly doesn't fit the bill. For one thing, that ACLU is a "left" organization is a myth. They defend the constitutional rights of everyone: conservative, liberal or vegetarian. Just because the vicious right wing fires at will at the ACLU does not make the ACLU a left wing organization. The ACLU has, correctly in my judgment, fought for first amendment rights of even the KKK. That is what makes the ACLU the American Civil Liberties Union. They are a dispassionate defender of Constitutional rights, no matter what your political colors are.
Second, in its recent critical report that has been much publicized about the Obama administration's civil liberties record, the ACLU acknowledges and praises the things it believes the administration has done right. Ito even writes about this in her column:
In recent weeks, we’ve been observing that, while the Obama administration has made significant progress in some areas, there is a real danger that this administration is institutionalizing some of the most problematic Bush-era national security policies.Perhaps Gibbs' comments that those on the left who equate Obama with Bush ought to be drug tested played a little close to home, but the ACLU, and Suzanne Ito here, has been very, very careful not to equate the two administrations, or the two presidents, only drawing specific parallels in policies, while also mentioning the specific improvements. Obviously, they are making a point that while they are not fully happy with the Obama administration's record, Bush's was worse. This type of nuanced criticism is not the target of Gibbs' comments.
The ACLU is neither left nor an ideological, knee-jerk basher of the Obama administration. Gibbs' comments had nothing to do with the ACLU. But for those to whom Gibbs' comments were directed, I wrote earlier about why he was right.