But he has one massive blind spot in that regard, and just like his friend Chris Hayes (who Klein covered for this week on All In) that blind spot is anything to do with the Dudebro Defector. Klein on President Obama's press conference Friday:
Obama began the news conference by announcing a series of reforms meant to increase the transparency of, and the constraints on, the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. They included reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which enables the collection of telephone metadata; changes to the powerful surveillance courts to ensure ”that the government’s position is challenged by an adversary”; declassification of key NSA documents; and the formation of “a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.”
“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation,” Obama said. “It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”
OK, now, since this is what everyone has been asking the President to do, you would think that would be at least a point in his favor. But what immediately follows is some very familiar goalpost-moving behavior we expect to see from the hard right:
If that’s so, then Edward Snowden should be hailed as a hero. There’s simply no doubt that his leaks led to more open debate and more democratic process than would’ve existed otherwise.
Obama reluctantly admitted as much. “There’s no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board,” he said, though he also argued that absent Snowden, “we would have gotten to the same place, and we would have done so without putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country.”
As Tim Lee writes, this is dubious at best. Prior to Snowden’s remarks, there was little public debate — in part because the federal government was preventing it.
So, zero credit for Obama, the guy who defected to Russia (a country that just passed laws making it illegal to have an opinion supporting LGBTQ people) with tons of juicy NSA info on methods and means is a hero, and Klein, who is a journalist and print and TV media figure, is complaining about the stifling of debate. Awesome.
I always enjoy pundits talking about the stifling of debate, as if pundits talking about things wasn't debate, and that President Obama had a gun to their heads. It's disingenuous enough when right-wing hacks do it, but Ezra Klein knows better, and he's gone right off the cliff. I didn't think I'd be putting him in the Village Stupidity category anytime soon, but if he really was going to have a serious debate about the US, Russia, and the NSA, this is nowhere close.