Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why Obama's Support For FISA Cave-In Is Such A Downer

Original Link:

Here's what's so dispiriting about it. One of the riveting things about Barack Obama's candidacy is that since the outset of the campaign he's seemed absolutely dead serious about changing the way foreign policy is discussed and argued about in this country.

Time and again, in his debates with Hillary, and now with John McCain, his whole debate posture on national security issues was centered on the idea that he could challenge and change what it means to talk "tough." His candidacy has long seemed to embody a conviction that Democrats can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- that if Dems stick to a set of core principles, and forcefully argue for them without blinking, they can and will persuade people that, simply put, they are right and Republicans are wrong.

Obama has done this already in this general election -- repeatedly. And no doubt he will do it again and again and again in the months ahead.

To be clear, I'm not even talking about whether opposing this would or wouldn't have carried political peril. It really doesn't matter. Because if there were ever anything that would have tested his operating premise throughout this campaign -- that you can win arguments with Republicans about national security -- it was this legislation. If ever there were anything that deserved to test this premise, it was this legislation.

And this time, he abandoned that premise.

Late Update: Glenn Greenwald, a leading critic of Obama on this, sends me his skeptical take on why he thinks Obama's promise to work on the bill in the Senate doesn't change anything:

"I think we do a grave disservice if we try to convince people that Obama is really going to work to get amnesty out of the bill. Reid is already saying it's just theater -- they know it's going to fail -- it's just a way, Reid said, to let people "express themselves." It's all designed to let Obama say, once he votes for this bill: "Well, I tried to get amnesty out." He's going to vote for amnesty -- and his statement today seals the fate of this bill. Why sugar coat that?"

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