As we saw in the case of filibusters and recess appointments, President Obama would not have liked Senator and Candidate Obama. Just recently President Obama gave understandable warnings about cheap talk on the campaign trail, contrasted to his own sober and judicious responsibilities of governance, as a way to chastise the various Republican candidates for their bellicose rhetoric about Iran and Syria.
Would that Obama had four years ago followed his own present wise advice. Few candidates have ever more opportunistically demagogued their own president’s foreign policy at a time of two ongoing wars than did Candidate Obama. Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, remember, in 2007 — not long after President Bush had ordered the surge — called for an abrupt withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008. He went on to blast Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, and about every element of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols that as president he later embraced or expanded.
He declared the ongoing surge was not working, and lectured about intervening in the Middle East to depose dictators (“We should be more modest in our belief that we can impose democracy on a country through military force”), apparently the very sort of thing he envisioned in Libya, unless he used military force there not in hopes of democratic reform to follow, but simply to remove Qaddafi and allow the chaotic militias that followed to do as they please, as now seems to be happening, from the murdering of black Africans to the desecration of British war graves.
In short, Candidate Obama excelled at opportunistic criticism of the commander-in-chief and it did a lot of damage — which may explain why he now does not appreciate some doing to his presidency what he did so vehemently to Bush’s.