Glenn Greenwald stopped by here to leave a comment on our last post, “Shock Absorbers: Progressives Stunned by Obama Non-Surprises,” which cited one of his recent posts. Glenn writes:

What’s your basis for accusing me of being surprised, let alone shocked, let alone “deeply shocked” at the Obama administration’s conduct? I doubt you have any such basis, because the claim is totally false.

To criticize X is not to express surprise about X.

You write on a virtually weekly basis condemning America’s imperial aggression. Is it fair to conclude that each time you write about it, you’re “surprised” and “shocked” by what you’re condemning? Should I come here each time you write on that topic and write:

“And you’re surprised by this???? This is new?????? Awww, how sweet – Chris Floyd has such an idealistic view of America that he’s deeply shocked that it acts as an imperial force in the world. Maybe some day he’ll realize that this is what America is and will stop being so deeply shocked by it.”

My response:
Glenn, I don’t want to get into a big back-and-forth on this with you. Life is too short, and there are a million other things infinitely more important and interesting than blogger squabbles. So I’m quite willing to concede that I might have gilded the lily in describing your particular reaction to the Obama moves as the same kind of “shock” that, say, Robert Scheer obviously experienced on the bailout policy.

(However, you may note that nowhere in my piece did I resort to the kind of belittling “aw ain’t that sweet” caricatured fictionalizing of your position that you apply to me in your response. The only remotely personal remark I made in my post was to describe you and Scott Horton as “worthy men” – which was obviously not satirical, given that I often cite your work and his on my blog.)

Anyway, what you are saying now is that you are not the least bit surprised by Obama’s actions in these areas – that is, you have expected all along that he would intervene in court cases to uphold Bush’s authoritarian principles, and even defend John Yoo, that he would join the Bush gang in threatening not to warn the UK of possible terrorist attacks (i.e., “stop cooperating on intelligence about terrorism”) if the Brits didn’t quash a court case about U.S. torture of a British resident, and so forth. OK, fine.

I don’t recall seeing anything in your pre-election or post-election work that expressed such certainty that Obama would, as I said in the piece, uphold so many core principles of his predecessor, especially “enhancing the authoritarian power of a thoroughly militarized state.” (For of course, these court moves are tied to the tortures that occurred – and under the Army Field Manual (and Gitmo force-feeding programs, etc.) are still occurring – in the “War on Terror” that Obama has embraced as his own.) So I assumed that you might have been surprised to see Obama standing shoulder to shoulder with Yoo, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush to cover up torture in a court of law. If I was in error in this assumption – if you saw this coming a mile off – then ’twas a grievous fault on my part.

So if you would like to me to say here before God and everybody that, unlike many others, Glenn Greenwald is not actually shocked or even surprised by Obama’s use of draconian state secret laws – and diplomatic blackmail, threatening the civilian population of a close ally – to cover up revelations of torture and retain authoritarian powers claimed by his despicable, criminal predecessor – well then, here you go. Happy to oblige.

We now resume regular programming.

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