Technology Liberation Front » Archive » FISA Capitulation: Bad Policy, Bad Politics:
Barack Obama is supporting the FISA bill. That pretty much seals it: Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd may filibuster, but we already know that there are enough Democrats willing to break ranks to reach cloture, and with the party’s figurehead on board, none of them are likely to switch sides. Obama says he’s going to try to strip out the immunity provision, but this is obviously so much political theater. If he were serious about doing that he’d be saying he planned to oppose the “compromise” until the immunity provision got stripped out. The fact that he’s committing himself to support the overall bill whether or not it comes with immunity is proof that he doesn’t really care about getting rid of immunity. And why would he? A few angry liberals may decide not to give to his campaign, but he’s already got a lopsided fundraising advantage over John McCain, and in the long run he probably wants to stay on the good side of a powerful lobby that could prove useful to him once he’s in the Oval Office. Same goes for Steny Hoyer: Obama will need his support when it comes time to nationalize the health care system, so why risk alienating Hoyer just to make Glenn Greenwald happy?
We are, in other words, right back to the narrative where being “strong” on national security means trashing the constitution. Within that frame, Democrats are always going to lose because they’re never going to be as enthusiastic about Constitution-trashing as the Republicans (well, I hope so anyway. Bill Clinton did his best). So by conceding the premise and saying, in effect, “we can trash the constitution too!” the Democrats were setting themselves up for future political problems. Because if the Democrats are carbon copies of the Republicans on national security issues, why not go for the real thing?