Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why, Obama? It Matters!

Upon returning home on Sunday, I discovered that not only had the wretched FISA bill passed the House, but that Obama has come out in support of it.* I came up with four possible reasons why Obama might have done this:
1. With the nomination secured, he figures that he has to "move to the center."
2. He felt the bill's passage is inevitable, and decided that it would look bad to support a loser.
3. His earlier rhetoric wasn't genuine, but merely a way to win support.
4. He expects to be president, so isn't concerned about abuse of executive power.

Needless to say, I find none of these reasons, alone or in combination, a sufficient basis for his change of heart. I'm not going to name all the things wrong with the bill (it goes far beyond the telecom immunity feature); rather, I encourage people to read Senator Feingold's summary analysis of the bill's shortcomings, as well as Glenn Greenwald's excellent series of posts on the subject. Suffice it to say that overnight my support of Obama went from solid to tepid, and that any earlier interest in contributing to his campaign has evaporated. I know that no politician is perfect, and also that Obama is not and never has been a progressive, no matter the efforts underway to label him as ultra liberal, so maybe I shouldn't be so disappointed. All the same, one of the principal reasons I favored Obama over Clinton was a belief that he "gets" the importance of civil liberties, to me one of the most important issues there is, and the protection of which should, and occasionally does, cross political lines. Now I find that he doesn't get it, and doesn't see that this is one of the principles and positions over which one should not cave.

Given that I live in DC, it's easy to vote my conscience in the general election, because no matter what I do, the Democrat will garner over 80% of the vote -- I need not fear that my vote will enable "the greater of two evils" to claim the White House. Given that I have that luxury, I need to re-examine whether I want to vote for him, because his position here suggests that he isn't the candidate I thought he was.

[Update]Unlike Obama, Senator Dodd "gets it."
* - I consider his statement that he will try to get telecom immunity taken from the bill to be worthless -- he has stated that he supports the bill (and presumably will vote for it), not that he won't support it unless telecom immunity is removed.