John Cusack: Obama is ‘as bad or worse than Bush’ on civil liberties


Here are some photos from last week’s LA premiere of Love & Mercy, the authorized bio-pic of the Beach Boys’ frontman Brian Wilson. John Cusack and Paul Dano both play Brian Wilson – Dano (obviously) plays the young version, the Beach Boy, and Cusack plays the older Wilson, struggling with mental illness. Both performances are said to be excellent, and both Dano and Cusack are in the conversation for many awards, although it’s difficult to say which actor would be considered the “lead” or if both would be considered.

This feels like one of John Cusack’s first Oscar-baity drama roles in a long time, but I was looking through Cusack’s IMDB and it’s sort of amazing to see how much he works. He seems like one of those actors – a bit like Nicholas Cage – who just says “yes” to every script he’s offered, good or bad, indie or studio, whatever. I was an old-school Cusack fan back in the day. Like, I LOVED him. He was one of my favorite people ever. But in the past few years, he’s come across as… I don’t know, not really a douchebag but definitely douche-adjacent. Cusack has a new interview with The Daily Beast where he talks politics, drugs and more. Some of his quotes are thought-provoking and some are just… ugh.

He says whatever: “I just say what I think, and if people don’t like it, that’s OK…. All those people are just full of hot air and networking and stuff. If you’re speaking out about basic Rubicon lines that should or shouldn’t be crossed, if you can’t be against state-sanctioned murder being made acceptable or economic policy, making the difference between language and meaning so absurd that Orwell and Kafka laugh, these are not heavy-duty things, these are just basic, Cartesian things. They’re common sense, and were debated constitutionally a long time ago.

On Vince Vaughn saying there should be more guns in schools: “The thing is, you’d say “What schools?” and “What version of America are we talking about?” If you look at the site called it’ll tell you about how many murders have happened in Chicago, giving you weekly and monthly updates, and you can probably find out how many murders have happened in Baltimore and all over the country. That’s not the kind of debate where you want to do a tit-for-tat with what two celebrities think about it, and in order to talk about it you have to do it in an in-depth way—you need to follow the money and see what the politics are. But no, I think that’s a bad idea.

Politics: “Well, Obama has certainly extended and hardened the cement on a lot of Bush’s post-9/11 Terror Inc. policies, so he’s very similar to Bush in every way that way. His domestic policy is a bit different, but when you talk about drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers, he’s as bad or worse than Bush. He hasn’t started as many wars, but he’s extended the ones we had, and I don’t even think Dick Cheney or Richard Nixon would say the president has the right to unilaterally decide whom he can kill around the world. On Tuesdays, the president can just decide whom he wants to kill, and you know, since 9/11 there are magic words like “terror,” and if you use magic words, you can justify any power grab you want.

Whether he was offered the lead on Breaking Bad: “No! Not that I’m aware of, but you never know what the agents could have done. It’s such a weird, silly thing though because why would anyone want to see that show without that actor playing it? I want him to play it, even if they offered it to me! He’s awesome.

[From The Daily Beast]

The “Obama is worse than Bush” thing is so stupid to me. It makes me feel sorry for Pres. Obama more than anything else – the Republicans’ trope has been that Obama is so crazy-liberal and he’s a socialist and a communist and he will destroy America with his crazy liberal agenda. Then the far-left people complain that Obama is too centrist, that he’s “just like Bush,” etc. No one is happy because… at the end of the day, Pres. Obama is a reasonable man trying to work with both sides. Just my opinion.

There’s also a lengthy discussion about drugs and Brian Wilson and whether great art can be achieved from taking drugs. Cusack came across pretty well in that section.


Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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168 Responses to “John Cusack: Obama is ‘as bad or worse than Bush’ on civil liberties”

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  1. Esmom says:

    I used to love him back in the day, too. Major actor crush. Now he just irritates the crap out of me with his constant need to assert his intelligence, especially on matters of politics. I think he’s a smart guy but at this point I think I’d prefer a hair or skincare informercial from him. Some lifestyle tips, maybe.

    • bettyrose says:

      LMAO on lifestyle tips. I would totally read his blog documenting the best and worse of Chicago gentrification.

      • Esmom says:

        Eee, I’d be wary about anything he had to say about gentrification in Chi. At this point he’s gotta be more than a little out of touch. Although I do remember the theater troupe he used to run in some little theater in some neighborhood (can’t remember which one) that likely is dominated by a Target, Panera and/or Whole Foods by now.

      • bettyrose says:

        Esmom, but isn’t the point of a lifestyle blog to be elitist and out of touch?

      • Esmom says:

        You are correct, Bettyrose, point taken. That would indeed be entertaining.

    • Snazzy says:

      Agreed! Do you think he uses Living Proof?

      • Alex says:

        You are most definitely correct. And it isn’t ‘far left’ thinking, it’s a fact. What people call ‘far left’ today is laughable.

    • scylla74 says:

      Obama is more suave and in a sociopolitical context more liberal. But his foreign affairs and civil rights actions don’t differ very much from Bush and concerning wistleblowers are WORSE.

      • Boodiba says:

        Totally agreed.

      • belle de jour says:

        I campaigned & voted for him, and agree x 10000.

      • sunshine says:

        No, no…he’s totally different and like, way better! Because one political party of rich plutocrats is way better than the other party of rich plutocrats! There’s TOTALLY a difference, guys!

      • Asiyah says:


      • The Other Katherine says:

        Like belle de jour, I voted for Obama and actively encouraged others to do so when he was running for his first term. His record on civil liberties is one of the greatest disappointments of my lifetime, and I do not say that lightly. The man is a complete and utter hypocrite — and he was a CONSTITUTIONAL LAW professor. Unlike Bush, he does not even have the excuse of ignorance.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      @Esmom, hair infomercial from Cusack?!? Gah! He looks like the captain of the just for men dye club in these pics! I’m hoping it is for a role…because that is looking sold, bought, and processed.

  2. shumibaby says:

    Why is he labeled as far-left? Seems like an easy way to dismiss his (reasonable) points.

    • Crumpet says:


    • Livvers says:

      If his remarks are what a centrist American considers “far-left,” then I do not have high hopes for the long-term survival of America’s political leftists.

    • siri says:

      Even if he WAS far-left, his points would still be valid, because he’s right in saying that many subjects are common sense subjects, not heavy-duty things. We really don’t need to put them into categories like left and right, because as soon as we label them, they will be dismissed, as you rightfully point out.

    • Mila says:

      from an american pov it might be. i mean i saw an interview with a Norway right winger pushing to get more paternity leave.

    • belle de jour says:

      I would probably be labelled ‘far left,’ and do not consider my views as other than ‘reasonable’… yet I agree many labelling him could be doing so as an *attempt* at political shorthand to pigeon-hole his remarks and perspective.

      As ever, ‘far’ depends upon where you’re standing to judge the distance between you and another person’s stance.

      • bree says:

        well, conservatives have been “labeled” as old white men of power, but we currently have a young latino, a black man and a woman running for President in that party- so I guess the labels aren’t really accurate afterall.

      • belle de jour says:

        @bree: I’m no fan at all of labels, either. They are mostly used as lazy ways to dismiss rather than to listen or consider or understand.

    • MAC says:


  3. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:


    • Crumpet says:

      He has been an incredibly divisive president in terms of racial issues in the US, IMO.

      • Kitten says:


      • Kiddo says:

        It is the population that makes race an issue and not Obama. Many people were unhappy that he got the job in the first place.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        True. I do hear people say, ‘He’s the president of everyone’ when someone else perceives that black people are the only minorities who haven’t been given special notice under his administration.

      • marie says:

        In the last 2 years the racial divide in this country has gotten so bad there are kids at school who won’t play with my daughter because they can’t figure out “what” she is. All of the sudden race is so important. I don’t remember being quizzed on my ethnicity after I moved to America so kids could decide if I was good enough to play with.

        She’s not dark enough for the black kids, not white enough for the white kids, she doesn’t speak Spanish so she can’t fit with the Mexicans and the only other asian kid is her only real friend. That’s some 1960’s bull poop that I thought my children wouldn’t have to deal with.

      • FingerBinger says:

        @marie. That’s not Obama’s fault. Sorry about what your daughter is going through but you should blame their parents.

      • Dirty Martini says:

        I agree he has contributed. Alas contributions on racial divide are plentiful. As are blinders to the reality…….racism does exist. And not everything good or bad that happens to any one is a factor of their race. Personal accountability and choice is a factor as well.

      • meme says:

        I agree with you 100%. He and Holder keep fanning the flames.

      • Nicolette says:

        @meme, Yes they do as they sit back and watch the country burn.

      • pk says:

        I agree!

      • marie says:

        You’re right Obama can’t be 100% to blame for racial divide in the country, but he holds responsibility. There’s also the media who pit races against each other with questionable facts at best, there’s parents who now feel the need to align with their own race or be left ostracized, there’s individuals crying racism over everything and forgetting that we’re all people.

        I’m mixed, my husband is mixed and so are our kids. I have never felt so left out in my life. It’s like if you don’t look enough like one thing you have no side. I have black friends who all of the sudden think I don’t know their struggle and I can’t talk to them because I’m half white. We’re so fixated on color as a culture again we’re setting civil rights back decades.

      • minx says:

        Yeah, he certainly has his nerve presidenting while being black.

      • bree says:

        minx: he is as white as he is black

      • marie says:

        @bree that’s not true. The new rules are you get lumped in with whatever you look the most like, and if you’re like my family where no one can easily tell the geographical origin of your face they don’t want you, because at that point you no longer understand anyone’s problems because they can’t easily put you in a racial box.

      • Timbuktu says:

        wow. Obama is responsible for racial issues? One can discuss the way he responded to this or that (Michael Brown, recent Baltimore events), but that’s the thing: he’s RESPONDING, reacting, I just don’t understand how anyone can blame him for creating tensions.

      • Kitten says:

        ^^^What Timbuktu said.

      • alihar999 says:

        I completely agree that he is divisive. Race relations are worse now than they have been in years and I think how he handles these issues are part of the problem. Also agree with Marie that we need to STOP the concentration on color/nationality and just focus on people as people. Thought we were heading in that direction until the last number of years. And yes….I think Obama encourages that behavior.

      • belle de jour says:

        I couldn’t disagree more with your unsupported blanket statement.

        If anything, Obama’s election served as the catalyst for bringing forth and exposing long-existing and unhealed racial rifts in this country, and the man himself has served as both a target for frustrated anger and his office an excuse to air previously (if barely) repressed racism more boldly.

        But the catalyst and the target and the position are not the same thing as the pre-existing divisive problem in the first place. I certainly do not blame Obama or Obama’s election for ripping off a skimpy, barely-hanging-on bandaid and exposing an infection that has not yet been effectively treated or cured.

      • Kitten says:

        I don’t even understand these comments. You’re saying that how president handles race issues is the problem. How so? What does President Obama do in regards to race relations that exacerbates the issue or causes more division?
        I want concrete examples, because these comments so far are completely unfounded.

        Hell, during his entire presidency, President Obama has only addressed race a handful of time.

        We’re living in a time where there exists a huge spotlight on the issue of racism in our country. That illumination is mostly due to social media’s ability to spread information quickly and technology like cell phone cameras that are able to capture an incident and share it with thousands within minutes.

        Oh noes! Accountability. Scary sh* for some police officers who’s immense power and protection ensured for years that their actions would go unchallenged.

        SMH…Some of you are making it seem like President Obama invented racism.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        I interpreted the post as bringing up the point that a decent number of black people (obviously not all) have issues with the way he responds to the constant violence being perpetrated against black people. Ineffectual, I guess?

        However, he didn’t fan the flames of anything. If you want this equality, start treating people like equals. How much filmed footage is there of black people being beaten and killed? So it’s Eric Holder’s fault that people use their free will to punish and kill black people for shits & giggles, or are we mad that acknowledging that could cause slight discomfort, so the main thing is to pretend it isn’t happening? Disagree with his policy, fine, but don’t act like he’s responsible for the existence of racism and that knowing that automatically makes him the bad guy. The man got almost 45 000 death threats during his first term, so if you want to talk about ‘race baiters’ talk it over with the people who depict him and his family as monkeys… you won’t have to look long.

        I’ve seen people blame him for a lot of stuff, some of it valid, but this, ‘only you can prevent a racist’s free will’ nonsense is ridiculous, as is the notion that it’s somebody’s job to just suffer in silence so someone else’s bubble world view can be supported. Who would wish it on someone?

        How about we for once take the racists to task without qualification instead of blaming the recipient? You know why the tensions increased? Because people are mad that there are a bunch of uppity black people in the White House and these incidents weren’t occurring before because black people knew their ‘place’. That’s IT.

      • Esmom says:

        belle de jour, I was reading these comments with growing alarm until I came to yours. Very well said, thank you.

        KItten, you’re right on, too. I’m shaking my head at people’s takes on what’s happening in the U.S. today. I think when Obama has addressed race, it’s been with much sensitivity and remarkable insight.

      • QQ says:

        jesus H Christ This Thread….

        Obama Is The Cause Of The Current race relations state of affairs??!??!

        Not Racists Throwing a Hissy and Subsequently making no bones anywhere of Their Positions??

        Not Tea partiers ridiculous campaing of asserting he is an Other and a fraud and a Foreigner and demanding Transcripts when The Birther claptrap didnt work?

        Not Inadecuately trained outsiders to the communities they serve Policemen killing Black Folks Like It’s Sport? not Fox News Fawxtrage reportage to the already salty people that Obama won and entertaining anyone’s Cuckoo Theories??

        If anything Obama has Gone OUT of his way to not speak on these issues and Remain measured against the face of people clamoring him to do MORE, Otherwise he’d be flying all over the country eulogizing young men and women weekly and Making the state dept overhaul every other police dept in this country ..FFS

        But yeah Thanks Obama and all.. Im Kind of Incredulous That this was really even.. Tip of The Hat To Kitten, Kiddo and Belle, Jo, esmom always Fighting the good fight

      • Nymeria says:

        I agree. Even before all the facts came out about Trayvon Martin, Obama said that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. He should have remained neutral, or refrained from commenting about it at all.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        The only way he has “fanned the flames” of racism is by simply existing and being elected President. A person can’t make someone else racist, even if they are President.

        Racial tensions are high, no doubt but that is because many of our fellow citizens are racist.

      • Kitten says:

        This just goes back to what I always say: there are plenty of liberals who have just as many issues with the POTUS as neo-conservatives do, but the things we criticize Pres Obama for are not even in the same HEMISPHERE as the things that neo-cons criticize him for.

    • Dirty Martini says:

      For a man who ran on a platform of bringing people together, he demonizes those who disagree with him all across the board. As it relates to race, I disagree wholeheartedly that he has only discussed race “a handful of times.” Its my opinion that he has exploited race and minority relations for political purposes and for ideological reasons–racializing voter intimidation laws, accusing the other party for being after him on the basis of race, encouraging to Hispanics and blacks to vote Democrats because Democrats are their friends and Republicans their enemies; and accusing the GOP of supporting voter ID laws to suppress the vote of people of color.

      No he didn’t invent racism–it exists. But everything cannot be neatly ascribed to race. And in my opinion, he has capitalized on doing so.

      • Nicolette says:


      • Kitten says:

        Four times in almost 8 years. He talked about Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, he spoke about the Baltimore riots on Letterman and race relations on an interview that aired on BET. You didn’t seriously expect him to not talk about race on BET, right?

        Also, why the hell shouldn’t he talk about racism or race relations? He’s the first black president FFS. Many feel that he has an obligation to talk about these things and as Jo Mama said, sorry if it bursts your bubble. No, he should NOT remain silent on the matter just so people can go on pretending that racism is dead and everything is copacetic.

        In all his discussions about race, President Obama has NEVER used inflammatory or divisive language and has always remained calm and eloquent.

        And I still can’t believe all the OTT hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over him saying that he could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago. Was he telling a lie?
        BTW, around the time of Ferguson, he also said that people should “seize the moment and turn this into a positive situation” and that people should honor the wishes of Michael Brown’s family and not engage in violent and destructive behavior.

        Wow, what a divisive rabble-rouser!!

        Although I have to admit that any time Zimmerman is brought up is a treat for me. Besides murdering an unarmed kid in 2012, his lengthy record with the law is something to behold–two incidents in 2005, five incidents in 2013 and of course aggravated assault in 2015. I don’t know about everyone else, but I sure feel safer knowing this violent wife-beater is out on the streets. But I digress…

        If race relations have worsened since the POTUS took office it’s because all the undercover racists came out of the woodwork and took to social media, freaking out and losing their shit because suddenly we have a black president. I mean, what president prior to Pres Obama received death threats because of his skin color? But I supposed that’s Obama’s fault for making the white people angry by being black and stuff.

      • Dirty Martini says:

        Kitten, you can continue to say 4 times….but the facts will show otherwise. He speaks of it at just about every opportunity whether it is valid or not. Just off the top of my head (and in addition to those in my comment upstream you didn’t acknowledge)…….He spoke of it on Good Morning America over Christmas last year, referencing being treated as “the help”. He spoke of it as it relates to the racist University of Oklahoma video. He spoke of it as it relates to that idiot Don Sterling.

        You didn’t acknowledge any of those. I’m sure there are more but we’ve likely beat this to death. We see it differently.

        Yes racism exists and I’m not saying I disagree with all his comments. I just don’t agree with all of them either. I am saying that he uses racism as a collateral calling card and speaks to it often and frequently. Your 4 number c an be easily refuted with a 5 second search of his comments. I think he uses it for political gain and inserts himself in discussing matters that may be best left at the local level.

        Clearly you don’t agree with me. Fine. Plenty of people agree with me and plenty of people agree with you.

        Meanwhile….back to John Cusak and the beauty of Celebitchy.

        I think he’s aged well. How about you?

      • Kitten says:

        You’re talking about times that he spoke about his personal experience as a black man. That is VASTLY different than talking about how the current state of race relations in our country. All I’m getting from your comments is that you wish Pres Obama pretended that he wasn’t black or at the very least never talked about it, which is beyond unrealistic, it’s really unfair to expect that of him.

        Anyway, agree to disagree.

        As far as Cusack goes, I’ll always have a huge crush on him. I can’t help it. Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, One Crazy Summer… sigh.
        Also, if you’ve never seen Paperboy, his performance is INCREDIBLE (and incredibly underrated) in that film.

      • Dirty Martini says:

        Speaking of personal experience when you are President of the United States of America is certainly not different than talking about race relations IMO. He’s president of the US…..his personal experience observations in front of the media with the entire country (nee world) watching IS framing national dialogue on race relations. That’s the power of the office he holds and that’s the power of the press reporting his every freaking word. I think its naïve to believe otherwise.

        If I said that what I get from your comments is that you think him being criticized is a demonstration of racism too….would you say that I am completely off mark and wrong to guess at your feelings and that you are capable of expressing them yourself accurately? That’s how I feel about yours saying I think he should pretend to not be black. That is not what I said. It isn’t a polarizing never speak of it nor always speak of it proposition.

        And we can absolutely agree on JC. He is swoon worthy. I re watched 16 Candles this weekend and was just blindsided at how young he was in that movie and hence…how old that made me.

        But I haven’t seen Paperboy and on the basis of your recommendation will definitely check it out.

  4. bettyrose says:

    Those comments are a little off, but as former John Hughes sidekicks who’ve achieved mega-stardom go, Cusak wins on politics. Side eye RDJ.

  5. Pedro45 says:

    That first quotation is college freshman level of pretentiousness.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      So Cartesian!

      • PunkyMomma says:

        Orwell, Kafka and Descartes, oh my! (I can attest that both Kafka and Descartes are offered in a course called “Age of Enlightenment”, sophomore year.)

        I loved him in The Grifters.

    • Other Kitty says:

      I agree! I was like, WHAT?

    • melior says:

      Right? Kafka+ Orwell + Descartes … I mean pretty tough to fit all of these three in one line of argument.

    • belle de jour says:

      Actually, I honestly find it dispiriting that referencing relevant thinkers and writers is so easily dismissed as ‘pretentious.’ Unlike many frosh and sophomores just stretching their intellectual and rhetorical wings in a test flight, he obviously has read widely & well, and understands exactly why he’s bringing them up in context to bolster his arguments and observations.

      • melior says:

        Actually I wasn’t so much reacting to his references as much as to the scrumble eggs he made of them. Descartes is the go-to reference for the rationalists but Cusack made a ‘common sense’ argument which is not the appanage of the rationalists (idealist thinkers) but of the empiricists (David Hume & co).

      • belle de jour says:

        @ melior: I have absolutely zero difficulty in making both the leaps from – and the connections between – Orwell and Kafka and Descartes… especially as referenced by Mr. Cusack in the above remarks, in the context as they were meant and presented.

        For instance: all three have abiding themes and concerns (and, in Descartes’ case, actual formulas and literal equations) addressing the nature of the space between the physical and the theoretical, the specific and the abstract, the ‘provable’ and the hypothetical, the actionable and the inevitable, the current limit and the possible extenuation and extrapolations, the possible and the probable… etc.

        There is no appanage necessary or suggested – or even useful here, imo; and the distinctions between great thinkers and disciplines are often artificial constructs & highly overrated anyway. Common sense, idealistic thinking and empiricism are not, in fact, diametrically or hopelessly or even most productively categorically separated or opposed… nor do they derive their most important meaning and definition from comparison or opposition to the other.

        Obviously, I am a firm believer that there is more truth and adventurous thinking to be found in the ‘scrambled eggs’ mix and connections waiting to be made than in the lines to be drawn between.

        Not to mention that it is a kick to find a smart actor willing to even talk about and discuss this stuff.

      • melior says:

        Thanks for the reply Belle. I get your point.

      • belle de jour says:

        @melior: Sorry it took so long for me to say it!

        Here’s a favorite Monty Python philosophers’ drinking song for your trouble:

  6. Sixer says:

    Kaiser, I think if you live outside the US, you probably concur with Cusack. People really don’t see any difference between Bush and Obama. Many in the Global South consider to him to actually be worse (drones, sanctions, etc). I guess 90% of the world sees the US pretty much only in terms of its foreign policy.

    I’d include people in the other countries perceived to be of “the West” in that also. Some in those countries approve of the restriction of civil liberties in the name of the war on terror (or drugs, or whatever the latest “war” is) and some don’t – those restrictions are taking place in other countries too and the NSA (also GCHQ in the UK) are active worldwide, not just in the US. But both groups would agree US policies in those areas are pretty much the same, whoever’s president.

    I kinda think it’s positive if you have at least one or two celebrities considering the issues in an internationalist, non-ethnocentric way, even if you don’t agree with what he’s saying. You know?

    • MrsB says:

      I’m american and I agree. I have been *mostly* happy with his domestic policies. Foreign policy has been such a disappointment to me though. Which is why I claim Libertarian, even though that party also has some out there people, they pretty much all agree at least that we should be minding our own business and let the rest of the world do their thing without interference.

      • Dido says:

        “I have been *mostly* happy with his domestic policies.” And, ” …why I claim Libertarian…” I’m not sure you know what a libertarian is.

      • MrsB says:

        Well Dido, actually I do. I thought it was clear from my comment that the reason I claim libertarian is because of their stance on foreign policy. I’m sick and tired of being in wars that have nothing to do with us, spending money and sending our kids to get killed, maimed or if they’re lucky, just come back with PTSD. That is the most important issue for me now, and has been for quite some time. There is a lot I do not agree with libertarians on. In fact, each party has ideologies that I agree with and disagree with, but for now I claim libertarian because of foreign policy and because I believe the 2 party system is killing our country.

      • Dido says:

        MRSB – after reading through the rest of these comments, I genuinely appreciate your civil response. I sounded a bit snarky. So, sorry for that. : )

        We are very much of the same mind on foreign policy. Shake hands!

    • tifzlan says:

      Thanks Sixer, you took the words right out of my mouth.

      I’m not American and the extent to which i know about the Obama administration is pretty much 95% foreign policy and uh, i don’t have a very favorable opinion of him. I totally agree with what Cusack said and i know many other people do too.

    • Kiddo says:

      I mostly agree with him on the civil rights opinion.

    • Sixer says:

      @ kiddo: That Obama is on the same page as Bush? Or that restricting civil liberties is bad?

      I think the former is pretty much indisputable on the evidence whether you approve or disapprove. I’m big on civil liberties, so if it’s the latter, I’m with you there, too.

      @tifzlan – well, I suppose we all naturally see things on how they affect us, and US foreign policy affects us, while domestic policy doesn’t. So it’s easy enough for us to say Obama = Bush and ignore domestic policy where there are differences. I quite like Cusack for being aware enough to point it out!

    • dreben says:

      You don’t have to live outside of the U.S. to feel that way. I live in the U.S. and couldn’t agree more with Cusack. I’ve never given my vote to a presidential candidate that ultimately proceeded to disappointment me more than Obama. ‘A change we can believe in’? This guy was a fraud from the git-go and I can’t wait to see him gone.

      • Sixer says:

        I’m not in the US, so am probably not qualified to comment, really, but from my own observations, it seems that he started out with the right heart, but on the way up, and particularly once he took office, the establishment political machine just ate him up, as others are really saying below. It does make me wonder if what you voted for could ever actually happen. I feel much the same about politics here in the UK. Sad, really, would cover it.

      • WinterLady says:

        @Sixer as an American I agree. Obama reminds me of something my dad once said about Jimmy Carter :”He was a better man than a President.” I do think Obama is basically a decent man but being “good” doesn’t get you far in politics, it seems. Which is pretty damn sad and backwards. I think Obama gave people hope at a really bad time and it was easy to forget the realities of the world during his inspired campaigning. Now reality has set in again in it is hard to reconcile that with the hope and change everyone was wishing for.

      • FLORC says:

        Entirely qualified and yes!
        This was Obama’s platform too. He was an outsider and not yet corrupted. He wanted to rework politics from the inside out. Then by his own admission he saw that couldn’t be done. Everyone was too settled and even his own party would rebel against him unless he learned to play ball.

        And OMG yes! He’s no better than Pres Bush and Pres Cheney when it comes to our liberties. Patriot and FREEDOM acts are and were both terrible for us on top of other items. Good for others. Bad for us.

        And I say Pres Cheney because he had power transfered over to him a handful of time. Moments that were planned out and much was done. 1 most famous being when Pres Bush had his colonoscopy. He was sedated and executive power went to the VP temporarily for several hours.

      • Asiyah says:

        I always thought he was a fraud but never for the reasons Republicans considered him awful. It was because I didn’t buy that “change we can believe in.” I don’t blame him entirely for that; as one person, it’s hard to change an entire system.

      • bree says:

        a agree. he ran on a slogan and trashing the guy before him. now the only change I have is what’s left in my savings as my husand lost his job two years ago…but somehow the news says jobs are on the rise again? hmm…..

    • Luca76 says:

      I am a liberal I voted for Obama twice but I totally agree with this. His domestic policy is decent but the drone killings and the civil liberty policy isn’t any different than what a president Cheney would have done. I doubt any Democratic president and most especially Hilary Clinton would be any different. It’s also sad that most American media does almost no in depth reporting on this.

      • Asiyah says:


      • belle de jour says:

        You and I are paddling along upstream in the same canoe on this one.

      • *North*Star* says:


        I no longer read American news much because it’s so full of propaganda with very little actual news. I find it sad (really sad) as an American that I cannot trust my own country to deliver the news.

        It’s equally tragic that the places where it’s “safe” to debate or exchange ideas are diminishing every day. We are being primed to fight, every one, every where.

    • Kath says:

      I agree with you, but just had to chip in and say that “the global South” is such a bizarre term for someone who lives in Australia! I scratch my head every time I hear it, especially when I think of big financial hubs like Singapore and HK. I used to hear alot about “the north” and “the south” in development studies and found that equally infuriating!

      And if that weren’t silly enough, Australia – the world’s southernmost continent – is apparently part of the “global North”.

      This is what happens when academics get cute.

      • Sixer says:

        Oh, Kath, I know. But I’ve been reading a lot of neocolonial theory of late and it’s the term that seems to be generally accepted. You understand who I mean, though, right? I think, actually, Australia, especially with the current government, gets to be part of “the West”! How ridiculous is that?!

    • Asiyah says:

      Excellent points, Sixer.

      • sanders says:

        Hey Sixer,
        I really enjoy reading your posts.
        What neocolonial theory have you been reading? It’s an area that I am also interested in. How cool to come across another woman who likes celebrity gossip and neocolonial theory!!

    • maybeiamcrazy says:

      As another outsider, i agree. As far as foreign policy goes, he didn’t change anything. Furthermore the claim that Obama is centrist is not a far left one, it is a fact. It seems USA’s poles between right and left is incredibly narrow if Obama can ever be called leftist.

  7. felixswan2 says:

    It’s not about Obama, per se, it’s about the two party system having similar agendas. Obama could have had the best intentions going into politics, but nothing is really going to change or get done because of the way the US system is set up. I for one commend John Cusack for not just going along with the idea that “Obama is great because at least he is a Democrat and he’s better than the Republican.” I get so tired of hearing that, and believe nothing will change with that attitude.

    • WinterLady says:

      +1,000 it is what I always say when people start their Republican Vs. Democrat bs: Same difference. The two parties play at being rivals and fighting different agendas, but in a lot of ways they are very much the same and share the same goals. But it is true, no matter how good or pure a president’s intentions, they still have to play the game with two very powerful sides. That means not being able to always make needed changes.

    • Kitten says:

      Yeah I mostly agree. I don’t think we can put all the blame on the two party system, but I definitely think that it created a political environment that set Pres. Obama up to fail.

      I also don’t think either party is that different from each other.

    • MrsB says:

      Yep. I said up thread I claim libertarian because the past 8 years have taught me that really Republicans and Democrats are the same people. I don’t agree with everything libertarians believe in, but I consider it the lesser of the evils, if you will.

    • LB says:

      Totally and completely agree. People desperately wanted Obama to be revolutionary. He isn’t. To be fair, he can’t be given the deeply ingrained system we have. But that fact doesn’t mean it can’t be pointed out that Obama is a far cry from what people expected and resembles his predecessors.

    • Kiddo says:

      felixswan2, I agree. When the money for campaigns and lobbying comes from the same sources, there is little division between the starting point of both parties.

    • Sixer says:

      Chomsky recently said that the US is a one party state – it’s the Business Party, which is riven by infighting between two internal factions called Republicans and Democrats.

      Is that what you guys are getting at?

      • Kiddo says:

        Exactly. This is why people are manipulated through the smoke screen of hot button topics. And yes, there are differences there, but they are facades and rallying cries for many of the candidates. This is partially what begets the extreme polarization, and they like it that way. It helps to maintain the perception that they aren’t both drinking from the same well.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        That is exactly true. Capitalism reigns over all else here.

      • Sixer says:

        I think it’s like that here, too. Mr Sixer Senior always says that politics has descended to the level of being allowed to vote only on the colour of the curtains in your house.

      • Luca76 says:


      • belle de jour says:

        If you know how Chomsky has been vilified in certain circles in this country, you can appreciate how sweet it is to have seen him get too close to pointing out the sore spots on the false bifurcation beast at work in politics here.

      • *North*Star* says:

        The Business Party?

        I like that. It’s very true except it’s should be The Mega/Supersized Business Party because it’s really only the über big businesses that are listened to — small businesses need not apply.

    • MrsNix says:

      Exactly this. The two-party system has created a huge and polarizing illusion of two choices, and the truth is that all power has been stripped from the people, and both “sides” do exactly the same things in office. They remove the power checks in our system and use talking points to get people to believe they’re voting for something different than the other guy. Civil liberties are toppling like dominoes, but people like taking sides with “their guy” because they have been conditioned to do so.

      Obama and Bush both sorely disappointed me, and I’m an American who saw and disliked both presidents. Cusack made good points, but there are people who cannot tolerate any comparison between Obama and Bush, even when it is warranted. They are both men who treat foreign policy with disdain and swagger. They are both highly divisive. They both expanded executive power to hugely unconstitutional degrees. They both damaged our economy in huge, shocking ways. They both benefited from the media storm that kept the people arguing about hot button issues instead of focusing on the profound damage being done to American rights and American relationships with other nations. Honestly, if anyone was actually interested in a discussion about the abuse of constitutional rights and the destruction of constitutional government structure, it could go on for days without a single point of “party politics” ever entering into it. They are points that almost every American agrees on…but we mustn’t say we don’t like what Obama has done out loud or even pretend to notice how very, very similar he and W really have been.

      That anyone can get upset with Cusack (or anyone else for that matter) for pointing out the similarities, which are stark and glaring, is a sign of media indoctrination and polarized political passions that have blinded people to what is actually happening.

      • Asiyah says:

        Agreed! You all word it better than I could.

      • Hotpockets says:


        I wholeheartedly agree!

        I once heard a quote comparing the two main political parties, “Our voting system is like choosing the difference between a Pepsi and a coke, at the end of the day it is the same crap, that has the same’s just packaged differently.”

        Seeing the comments on this thread is a huge relief, because I get so tired of people assuming you’re on the far right side because you don’t like Obama. I am not on any side of the fence, because it doesn’t matter what side you’re on, all that matters is the TRUTH and we don’t know what the truth is anymore.

      • felixswan2 says:

        @mrsnix, agree 1000000%. So happy to see that so many on this thread haven’t totally bought into the 2 party bs. It gives me hope, which says a lot .

      • Lola says:

        @MrsNix yes but you’re lucky. In my country we have like 14 parties, and we have to fund them ALL with our taxes. Their members jump from party to party, or start new ones to receive the millions. If there are no elections they still receive money.
        They’re corrupt, they also get money from the mafia and from big companies to get them contracts, all of which was supposedly going to be avoided if they received our tax money.
        Sometimes they group two or three different parties with the same candidate.
        The end result? Thousands and thousands of politicians that are exactly the same thing but cost a fortune.

    • Asiyah says:

      That’s another great point, felixswan. I know he’s just one man and it’s hard to change this system, but I still can’t help feeling disappointment.

    • maybeiamcrazy says:

      Parties are controlled by people that fund them. Be it Obama or Bush or whomever. Especially in a country like USA, where the money that is spent on elections are obscene, waiting a big change from the new president is probably for the waste.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree.
      Presidents come and go, but the power behind the military industrial complex stays put.

  8. HH says:

    “… not really a douchebag but definitely douche-adjacent.”

    Hahahaha! I’m will definitely be using this phrase. Thanks, Kaiser!

    • QQ says:

      Me Too!.. as for this interview

      What In The Word Salad Hell?? I need a Translator or he needs to Wife Sarah Palin’s word Diarrhea

  9. Kitten says:

    To be fair, he said specifically that Obama was as bad as Bush when it comes to post 9/11 policies that infringe on our civil liberties and I actually agree with *most* of his statement.

    I like President Obama a lot as a person. A lot.
    But at the end of the day he still represents a weak political party that doesn’t have the strong foundation needed to match up with a very aggressive and unyielding GOP.

    I have sympathy for the President because he had McConnell and that nasty group who made it their mission to block him at every opportunity, but I still think he could have been stronger.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      IMO, Congress is so broken as an institution, it makes it nearly impossible for a President to truly govern. Both parties in Congress are sold to the funders of campaigns, and logic and reasoning have no influence on those whose vote has already been bought.

      Even constituent opinions have no sway on congressional members! Something like 80% of the country agrees with universal background checks for gun ownership, yet the threat of the NRA prevents congress from voting inline with their constituents. Even the Dems are afraid to vote against the NRA.

      • Kitten says:

        Exactly. As a voter, it’s all so disempowering, depressing, and futile.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        It is.
        I have lost all hope in regards to some issues (military, sensible gun regulation, sensible tax reform, etc.)…but there are still a few tiny areas where I feel like the President has sway. Mostly, in the appointment of Supreme Court nominees and how US aid is used abroad (especially in regards to abortion, condoms, etc.). These areas aren’t numerous, but they are very important. I don’t know if there is anything more important than the Supreme Court nominees.

        It is really hard to make a compelling argument to encourage people to vote, when it only has an effect in such a few areas. But because the Supreme Court is so important from my perspective, I will still be in the voting booth, as discouraged as I may be.

  10. Lilacflowers says:

    “he hasn’t started as many wars …” Uhm? When did Obama start a war? With whom?

  11. K says:

    Obama’s foreign policy is almost as messed up as Bush’s. That is true. His domestic policy is less conservative. Any attempts at liberalism made by Obama have been diluted by his allegiance to insurance and fossil fuel lobbyists and big banks.

  12. Mila says:

    hard to argue with that. Obama got a Nobel Peace Price despite murdering people withouth a trial. (there was only outrage in the USA when it hit an american) Obama is leading a war on the press, true that criticism comes almost exlusively from the left. but its really silly to dismiss it as “far left”.”far left” like feminists are for right wingers?
    Obama is prosecuting more whistleblowers than all of the presidents before him COMBINED.
    he does not care about the surveillance state, his lawyers are already trying to re establish most it.
    What did he do to shut down Wall Street Gambling?
    Youtube for the John Oliver bit about Drones. Obama has made itpossible that little middle eastern children are afraid of the sky.
    And Obama sees non american people as second class citiziens, but that seems to be pretty common for US presidents.

    And seriouly Obama said “We tortured some folks” thats as unemapthetic as you can be consinderng lots of men have been systemically raped and tortured in US “prisons”.

    i am sorry but if you still defend Obama you canceled your subscription being a good person.

    i see this in a lot of american liberals all pattingthemsevles on the back for yellign “equal pay” “equal marriage” but the moment thier government tortures or kills non americans they actually defend it. thats not being a liberal.

    (and im fully aware that anti obama comments are often deleted here)

    • WTF says:

      Your criticisms aren’t actually criticisms of Obama, they are criticisms of Americans. I’m an American and I don’t necessarily disagree with your points, but to blame the president is too easy and not accurate. Americans see non Americans as second class.
      If you put it that bluntly, we get defensive, but it’s true and our foreign policy reflects that. When the Obama administration even suggested that we have trials for the detainees at Guantanamo (nobody said they would be fair trials, or that we would try to get at justice, just that we would at least pay lip service to our own system of justice) everybody freaked out and called him naive and even dangerous to American safety.
      And where was the liberal support? Beats me, I’m still looking for it. So I just don’t know if we can blame our President for our own shortcomings.

      • bree says:

        No, I do blame Obama. He represents our county. Just like Bush got blamed before him. You cannot have it both ways, Bush messed up and was crucified for his shortcomings- but Obama cannot be blamed? No way. I blame him because there are things he directly did or does that I do not believe in or support. I don’t believe he had enough experience for the job or was vetted thouroughly. My child is special ed, so he lost me with his special ed comment on late night years ago.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Great point about Guantanamo.
        He made efforts to shut it down (as it should be), but Congress enacted legislation that made it impossible. Large numbers of congressional democrats voted against the shutting down of Guantanamo.

      • anon321 says:

        Obama suggested that detainees’ trials would be held in civilian courts but, as enemy combatants, they should be prosecuted in military arenas.

    • Fat Monica says:


  13. Elfie says:

    He has extended most of Bush’s war and civil liberties policies. The only difference is the rhetoric and a media which won’t challenge him on it because the right thinks the bad things he does aren’t anywhere near far enough and the left refuses to admit that he’s not perfect.

    He destroyed Libya which is now run by al Qaeda with genocide against minorities there, he along with European and Arab governments shamefully funded terrorists in Syria to take down the secular Assad regime which has caused genocide, sex slavery and millions of refugees, all of which was celebrated in the western media with a full pro terrorist propaganda campaign until ISIS took part of Iraq.

    The majority of reporting in the media is outright lies and propaganda. Politicians aren’t held to account for the horrors they contribute to because people are ignorant, until it’s on their doorstep they don’t care to know and the media has no intention of informing them.

    Obama not being as bad as a Republican may have been does not make him a success. He is responsible for all he has done and he has caused much pain and terror for the most vulnerable, innocent people due to his support for militants. That the Republicans, Europeans and Arab States also supported and funded those terrorists for obscene political purposes doesn’t make Obama or anyone else who helped them less accountable. There is no justification for contributing to evil.

    It’s chilling to think who’s going to be next considering most Americans consider the current POTUS a liberal.

    • WTF says:

      But isn’t that an indictment on us as Americans!?! Whenever a politician dares to suggest that we defend civil liberties or question funding militant groups they are shouted down as weak on defense and naive and then WE DON’T SAY anything.
      President says we have to try and talk to Iran, which HELLO?!?! how else do you come to anything even resembling a peaceful resolution without talking?!?!?!? Then he’s naive and pandering to terrorists.
      My own father said to me the other day that he didn’t mind the NSA surveillance b/c “I don’t have anything to hide”. My head almost exploded.
      I think we are getting the government we deserve. Which makes me sad on so many levels.

      • Sixer says:

        WTF – I like you! It’s bloody hard to see yourself as others see you – both as an individual and as part of country. I often get called disloyal and self-hating because I’m seen as too quick to criticise the UK by my compatriots. But I say no to that, and thrice no. For all its faults, I love my country. I’m just trying to own up so that we can make it BETTER. From where I’m sitting, I’m the patriotic one, you know?

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        That makes sense. Bush is vilified for it now, but back when it began, a lot of people supported that war. It’s be interesting to see what people think ten years from now.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      HE destroyed Libya? Are we talking about the same Libya that was in civil war in 2011?

      The fact is, like with Syria, there are several groups who are doing horrific things. There isn’t always a “good” side. In Syria, he has been shamed by the GOP for NOT funding groups to work against Assad.

      The US has that catch 22 placed on us, where we are damned if we get involved and damned if we don’t get involved. The Shiite/Sunni/Kurd conflict is region wide and it will not be solved by the US.

      • Ash says:

        “The US has that catch 22 placed on us, where we are damned if we get involved and damned if we don’t get involved.”

        Pretty much.

  14. Anniefannie says:

    If you dispassionately review Obama’s record on civil liberties and guns his statement is accurate.
    I campaigned for Obama so this is a reluctant, heartbreaking admission for me.
    Who would’ve guessed a constitutional professor could get it so wrong sometimes

  15. Dante says:

    John Cusack is absolutely right. It really is worse because when you have a left leaning president making it law that the president can assassinate American citizens without a trial or due process, well, do you see where that can lead? Oh it’s great if you trust the person in office but what if you get a real whack job in there? Obama truly turned out to be a disappointment and unfortunately, i don’t expect to hear anything different out of the next president.

  16. Lola says:

    Have no issues with anything he said. His opinion. Still love this man.

  17. GByeGirl says:

    The only way in which Obama is liberal at all is in his human rights beliefs regarding Americans. Pro-choice, women’s rights, gay marriage, racial equality. In every other way he is center/right.

    I think that Clinton will be the same way. I’m voting for Sanders, even though he’ll probably not win the primary.

    • Kitten says:

      I completely agree with everything you say.

      And I’m a Bernie Sanders gal as well.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      That sounds right.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I reaaaaaaaally wish the powers that be wouldn’t be setting Clinton up as the default option. I will vote for her if I have to, but I don’t WANT to. What I really want is a productive debate about the issues! That just can’t happen if we have so few serious candidates.

    • *North*Star* says:

      I was (and still am) hoping that Elizabeth Warren will throw her hat in the ring!

      But count me in for Bernie Sanders too. I’m hoping *someone* can go in and change things for the better but as time passes, I’m less and less hopeful anyone can.

      (And Clinton isn’t a game changer either, sad as I used to adore her)

  18. Cali says:

    I think actors and actresses should stick to only discussing their movies, the making of their movies and their personal lives if they feel the need to pimp that part out. But the rest? STFU. I don’t want to hear their thoughts anything else.

  19. Tough Cookie says:

    Saw “Love and Mercy” this past weekend…oh my goodness thought it was awesome. Cusack and Dano were both excellent!!
    That being said I get irritated when celebrities start spouting off on politics. I don’t know why. They are certainly entitled to their opinions.

  20. bree says:

    I don’t think Obama is much better than Bush at all, and I voted for him. I also find it strange that we aren’t allowed to critique him in anyway without being “racist”- I thought him being HALF black would pull is together, but it seems to have become an excuse to not be able to hold him accountable for anything questionable. Bush was called satan, he was ripped to shreds by the end of his presidency….but if you so much as say,” I don’t agree with Obama on his foreign relations”, or say,” perhaps he shouldn’t have golfed the day an American was beheaded by isis,” al Sharpton will tear your butt down for being a racist.

    • anon321 says:

      My black card was taken away for criticizing Obama. The PC movement that we are living under was purposely created when he got into office. His race is used to deflect all criticism of his policies and if you have a brain to question him them you are racist.

      • Kitten says:

        Uh no. The “PC movement” was created in the 1990s, well before Obama was in office.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Does anyone actually listen to Al Sharpton?

      • Kiddo says:

        Al Sharpton plays the flipside of Fox News. I imagine Fox News watching a lot of Sharpton, etc. and Sharpton watching a lot of Fox News; so they can point fingers back and forth in outrage and keep the ratings going.

      • sandy says:

        lilacflowers: I hope not, but he is at every racially divided issue raising his little point, when he himself is a multi millionaire who has made it off of black people like myself. Anon- I totally agree with you. I, too, am black and questioned Obamas actions and words and was immediately called a traitor to my race. He might look black, but he is half white, raised by a white mother and grandparents. He went to an ivy league school and became a lawyer. Call me crazy, but just because he “looks” black, doesn’t make me resonate with him and my upbringing, which was totally different. He is as black to me as jeb bush.

  21. Susan says:

    Did he attend the Ashley Judd School of Pretentious Interview Style?

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:


    • Snappyfish says:

      Perfect comment! brilliant. I loved him in A Sure Thing. We still joke & say “just for pleasure” the way he did when he was saving her from the old man in the pick up truck

  22. sara says:

    im hoping things change…its scary out there! we need fresh blood, two term presidents always grow tired.

  23. kim says:

    celebrities should not criticize the president. they are making millions of dollars for acting- which isn’t brain science. they aren’t solving any world problems themselves.

    • anon321 says:

      I don’t understand this. Acting is a profession, like teaching or engineering, so why should their profession cancel their constitutional rights as citizens?

  24. Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

    I’ve been pretty disappointed in Obama too. He was elected to bring in change we could believe but it has just been (big) business as usual. Obama obviously had an unrealistic weight of expectation on him when he was running for office but he was happy to perpetuate it.

  25. kardashian defector says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, politics…. That black as night hair though… 😩

  26. LAK says:

    The one thing he has touched upon which I am eternally exesperated by, is the way Americans happily give away their civil liberties, and remain blithely unconcerned by that.

    And the argument for it remains terror or some other magic word.

  27. Suzy from Ontario says:

    LB says:
    “Totally and completely agree. People desperately wanted Obama to be revolutionary. He isn’t. To be fair, he can’t be given the deeply ingrained system we have. But that fact doesn’t mean it can’t be pointed out that Obama is a far cry from what people expected and resembles his predecessors.”

    I have to agree. When Obama was elected, a lot of people were hoping he’d push through some radical things but he worried way too much about trying to work with the Republicans, who weren’t interested in compromising. Things have swung so far right that Obama, who’s barely Liberal compared to many Liberal presidents, is being accused of being too Liberal! It’s crazy! After 9/11, fear has been used to manipulate the American people and take away their freedoms and Obama did nothing to change that and in fact, used it. The Republicans haven’t made it easy for him and blame him for a lot of things that aren’t his fault, but there’s things he’s decided on his own that show he’s not very Liberal in his thinking and more old school than people were hoping for. I don’t disagree with Cusack, and I’m not American.

    I’m still hoping that he’ll do a few radical things before he leaves office, but he disappointed a lot of the people who voted for him.

  28. Fury says:

    Obama’s truly biggest failure was by leaving a black hole in the Middle East thereby creating Isis.
    I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal so no party truly speaks to me, that said I give tons of credit to Cusack for refusing to engage in a media driven war of words with Vaughn.