Tuesday, June 24, 2008


FISA and Obama

I'm not a policy wonk... I have opinions on FISA, but I cannot tell you its details in and out...

That said, I must admit that I will view Obama's actions on the bill with great interest. The bill in its current form represents some form of compromise, although most liberal bloggers and many congressmen argue that the legislation "not only sanctions warrantless wiretapping, but also grants retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that were complicit in Bush's illegal spying program" (http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/6/20/182650/488).

The risks in opposing such legislation are quite obvious, McCain can call out Obama for not acting to protect Americans against terrorists (a position I'm not in a position to call correct or incorrect). And in case you didn't know, McCain would absolutely love to have that debate (see Charlie Black's comments). In fact, according to many polls, including the Gallup tracking poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/108331/Obama-Has-Edge-Key-Election-Issues.aspx), terrorism is the ONLY issue where McCain holds an edge (a substantial one at that at 19 points). Obama could be opening the door to attacks in an election that is his to lose by most accounts.

One has to have the feeling that in any other election year prior to this, Obama would vote for the "compromise".

The risks in not blocking the FISA bill are in my opinion not as obvious. First, in viewing the liberal blogs (whether they be Daily Kos or MyDD), liberals want absolutely NOTHING to do with this legislation. Take a look at this post on DKos "Which are worse, the provisions included in the new FISA Amendments Act or the ones that aren't there but should be?" (http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/6/24/14546/0967/795/541276). DKos could have been called ObamaKos after Edwards dropped out of the primary..... By not opposing the legislation, Obama risks a fractured blogosphere (fundraising anyone?). Second, the not so obvious point, Obama is seen as a unconventional politician (a view I don't and have never shared). He was against the Iraq War before it was cool. He doesn't take money from lobbyists. What type of new politician would "grants retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that were complicit in Bush's illegal spying program"?

That said, in the end, my guess is that Obama will vote for the bill for the most part.... and that is the RIGHT move.

Look, liberals want to get back in the White House so bad that they would have voted for Lieberman... okay maybe not that much, but you get the point. If you lose a couple of leftists on the borders at this point it doesn't matter that much... Obama's lead is large enough in enough states that he doesn't need to rock the boat with the electorate at large. Furthermore, Obama has cemented his hold on the mantle as the change candidate... what is the 72 year old longtime politician John McCain going to claim that throne? Haha, yea right.

Besides, as this diary on DKos points out http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/6/24/152812/268/753/541302 ... "Up until now, I haven't gotten that worked up about FISA, in particular the retroactive immunity. Yes, it's bad. Very bad. Parts of the new FISA legislation are even worse that the immunity clause, in particular the extension from the 72 hours, to one week, of wire tappin' prior to going to the FISA court, as well as the seeming expansion from "foreign" to more domestic sources. It is a bad bill and should be defeated, although I say again, I'm not tremendously worked up about it."

At the end of the day, the choice for Obama is obvious.... vote for the bill.

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