Joan Walsh

  • February 19, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Lawmakers, on national and state fronts, seem a bit more interested in knowing more about the Obama administration’s use of drones in targeted killings abroad and possibly some regulation of the counterterrorism measure. After the weak “white paper,” apparently a brief summary of several documents created by lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel was made public by NBC, lawmakers and a few more journalists have discovered greater interest in the administration’s use of drones to take out suspected terrorists overseas.

    But reporting for Salon, Joan Walsh points to some polling that suggests that the administration’s expanding and secretive use of drones is getting a pass from and even winning over some liberals, who were not shy about blasting the Bush administration’s egregious legal reasoning used to justify torture of military detainees.

    A poll of 1,000 voters from last summer, conducted by Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler, “found significantly more support for targeted killing of suspected terrorists among white ‘racial liberals’ (i.e., those liberal on issues of race) and African Americans when they were told that Obama supported such a policy than when they were not told it was the president’s policy.”

    Walsh’s piece explains Tesler’s work, including some caveats, but concludes the polling suggests that respondents “reaction may be informed by their support for the president, which is at least a little bit troubling. The U.S. is moving into uncharged political, military and moral territory with the use of drones, as well as expanded claims of presidential powers on targeted killings, on what seems to be a global battlefield in time of endless war.”

    The support for counterterrorism policy solely or mostly on favorability of the president is highly disconcerting. Especially since the legal reasoning we’ve seen so far looks a lot like a just-trust-me policy. Indeed from a Dish post a couple weeks back, Andrew Sullivan blasted the wobbly white paper for its “corruption of the English language” and for coming “perilously close to the equivalent of ‘Because I said so.’ And the core message is trust me.’”

    Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi notes the “histornics and gymnastics some people have resorted to in their efforts to defend this infamous drone program. Extralegal murder is not an easy thing to manufacture consent around, and the signs of strain in the press have been pretty clear all around.”


  • October 22, 2012

    posted by Jeremy Leaming

    The nation lost a passionate liberal, proud populist and decorated war hero on Sunday when U.S. Senator and presidential nominee George McGovern died at 90.

    As Salon’s Joan Walsh wrote, after McGovern accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, Richard Nixon and the Republican Party unleashed a notorious smear campaign that not only attempted to besmirch McGovern’s integrity, but led to a landslide victory for Nixon.

    Walsh wrote:

    It worked. Of course Nixon’s aggressiveness was ultimately his downfall; he resigned over the scandal around his henchmen breaking into the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate building. A year after the ’72 election, polls showed Americans would choose McGovern if they had it to do over again.

    Read more tributes to McGovern’s life:

    Ignore McGovern’s Message at Your Peril, Stanley Kutler, Salon

    George McGovern Dead at 90, David Browne, Rolling Stone

    Remembering George McGovern, Gary Hart, The Huffington Post

    A Prairie Liberal, Trounced but Never Silenced, David E. Rosenbaum, The New York Times

    George McGovern: Touchstone of Liberalism, John Nichols, The Nation

    George McGovern: American Patriot and Truth-Teller, Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

    George McGovern, the man who never gave up, former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, The Washington Post