Political expediency and Barack Obama

      The past few weeks have born witness to much turmoil in the race for the White House. After Senator Barack claimed the presidential nomination through his adroit unveiling of superdelegates in his corner, many on Capital Hill and elsewhere were jubilant. In their eyes, a new era of politics had begun, ushered in by the success of Barack Obama's historical candidacy. The span of a month, however, was enough to shatter these feeble illusions of a post-triangulating campaign. During his campaign against Senator Clinton in the primaries, Senator Obama used the Iraq war vote as a major wedge issue, portraying Senator CLinton as a politician of the past, a veritable master of triangulation. (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/ 2007/05/obama_slams_cli.html) The truth of the matter is, Senator CLinton's vote to give President Bush the authority to engage Iraq would not have made a difference either way. A large majority of the senate, including many Democrats, voted to give authority to President Bush. Senator Clinton voted for the war due in part as a desire to be politically expedient. At time, as many of you may recall, there was no great anti-war movement back then (quite the contrary, in fact). It is interesting to note, however, that Senator Clinton's vote for the Iraq war may have in fact somewhat negated the national security argument in a potential GE with John McCain.
     Despite this, Senator Obama did the politically correct thing by voting for FISA. His vote for the capitulation was merely a means by which to negate the argument that he is somehow weak on national security. While I do not agree with the Democratic Congress' capitulation to President Bush, I do think that Obama's yea vote was necessary. However, what is unacceptable  is for the candidate who claims to be the one who transcends politics as usual to bash a fellow Democrat for political expediency in the primary and then turn on his supporters once he needs them no more. This is simply double speak and circumlocution by a gifted politician, no more, no less. To claim otherwise is to deny reality. Now I am no republican troll, having been an active supporter of Hillary clinton in the primaries. To vote for John McCain would be voting for four years of "Czechoslovakia" references and incompetence. However, Barack Obama must eventually learn to run as what he is first and foremost: just another politician.

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A Season of Discontent?

(Cross-posted at Clintonistas for Obama.)

I have a friend who is an amazing activist; she never fears to put her body on the line for the progressive causes in which she believes. She is very pragmatic and recognizes that the Democratic Party, with all its foibles, represents the best means to achieve her objectives. She voted for Barack Obama in the primary in her state, and we agreed to disagree about who should be the nominee of the Democratic Party. Yesterday, she sent me an email that said:

I really, really need an explanation of his vote on FISA. He's a former Constitutional law professor, for Godssake...how could he vote for something that abrogates the FOURTH AMENDMENT? I MUST know his reasoning on this vote. It's the only thing that's gotten to me about all of this campaign silliness. It's big.

In the immortal words of Bill Clinton, let me say that I feel her pain. I reminded her in an email that I sent back that Obama's ascendancy was none of my doing, but given the deal on the table, that is, John McCain or Barack Obama, I am backing Obama without hesitation.

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Fear Factor

     Someone once described courage as not never being afraid, but going on in spite of the fear. As a nation and as elected officials we seem to be running dangerously low on courage. Oh  we have the tough talk down, we have the posturing, but do we really have true courage? Since 9/11 when at least 2,985 people died from the terrorists attacks I think that what has been lost in all the hype is some perspective. While this was surely a tragedy, the population of the United States in the year 2001 was somewhere around 290 million people. Based on those numbers the terrorist attacks killed less than .02% of the population, yet since the attack we have responded by invading sovereign nations, torturing our fellow human beings, and gutting our Constitutional protections.

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Sen. Feingold

"I sit on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and I am one of the few members of this body who has been fully briefed on the warrantless wiretapping program. And, based on what I know, I can promise that if more information is declassified about the program in the future, as is likely to happen either due to the Inspector General report, the election of a new President, or simply the passage of time, members of this body will regret that we passed this legislation.

I am also familiar with the collection activities that have been conducted under the Protect America Act and will continue under this bill. I invite any of my colleagues who wish to know more about those activities to come speak to me in a classified setting. Publicly, all I can say is that I have serious concerns about how those activities may have impacted the civil liberties of Americans. If we grant these new powers to the government and the effects become known to the American people, we will realize what a mistake it was, of that I am sure."

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Driving back from the gym today, I heard the NPR top of the hour news update, and of course it led with the story that Bush had signed FISA. The angle the reporter took: "with approval ratings at historic lows, President Bush was handed a major victory by the Democratic-led congress yesterday..."


But there's more jut like it:

The AP:

ts passage was a major victory for Bush, an unpopular lame-duck president who nevertheless has been able to prevail over Congress on most issues of national security and intelligence disputes.

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