A Civil Libertarian President

Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University has written an excellent Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times noting that if Barack Obama becomes president:

…we could have not only our first president who is an African-American, but also our first president who is a civil libertarian.

Rosen goes on to compare and contrast Obama’s record on civil liberties with that of both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, mentioning at one point:

Bill Clinton’s presidency had many virtues, but a devotion to civil liberties was not one of them. After the Oklahoma City bombing, the Clinton administration proposed many of the expansions of police power that would end up in the Patriot Act.

Although either Obama or Hillary would be far better than Bush on civil liberties, Rosen argues that Clinton’s career demonstrates a top down approach, with faith in the power of officials and experts to strike “the correct balance between privacy and security.”  Obama’s record, Rosen believes, offers a grassroots approach, using legislative means to achieving civil liberties and includes reaching out to not only left leaning civil libertarians, but also to conservative libertarians to “strike a sensible balance between privacy and security.”

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