While this is unlikely to surprise many civil libertarians, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued its annual report card called “Liberty Watch 2012” and gave President Obama a failing report (earning the full four “torches” only on the issue of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy). The Republican candidates were equally dismal but it is rare for the Democratic candidate to be on par or lower than his GOP counterparts on civil liberties. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson secured the top civil liberties spot while Republican Ron Paul came in second ahead of Obama.
The only category on which Obama did particularly well was on his support in ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” even though he remains undecided on the issue of same sex marriage. He lost points for breaking promises on Guantanamo Bay, surveillance of citizens, failing to hold employees accountable for torture and other issues — many of which we have discussed on this blog.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann all received zero torches in all seven categories. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry did slightly better due to their opposition to wholesale deportations. Paul’s score was reduced for his call to end “birthright citizenship” for children of illegal immigrants and his support for a denial of federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples as well as his opposition to abortion. Obama came in third after Johnson and Paul. After Paul in the Republican ranks, Jon Huntsman did the best.
The low standing of Obama is particularly difficult for civil libertarians since he is the only candidate offered to Democrats this year. As I have previously written, Obama in my view has proven devastating for the civil liberties movement in the United States. His candidacy remains a triumph of personality over principles — decoupling the Democratic party from long-held values on civil liberties.
Here is the full report: ALWCandidateReportCard-1
Source: SF Gate