Sunday, June 22, 2008

What the Hell's Wrong With Obama?

Let’s see if we can mince our words daintily here: Barack Obama is pissing us off. Majorly.

Oh it’s not his about-face on public financing, though that was where every Republican talking-point started on the Sunday Morning Gasbags. That promise Obama made in 2007 regarding public financing “wasn’t worth the paper it was written on,” sez Sen. Lindsay Graham on “Meet the Press.” (And incidentally, why the Obama campaign would send Gov. Bill Richardson to try to spin the flip-flop positively does not speak well of the campaign’s managerial skills. Richardson was horrible as usual, positively inept, so much so that Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” laughed out loud at him. “Who are you trying to kid, Governor?” Joe Biden was much better on “Meet the Press,” not trying to deny that Obama’s changed position was a change of position but lecturing the pious Sen. Graham on two realities: if Sen. McCain could raise money from 1,400,000 small donors like Obama has, then Sen. McCain wouldn’t be opting for public financing either, and those 1,400,000 small donors do NOT include special interest PACs and lobbyists.)

Under the circumstances, we would be suspicious of Obama’s grasp of reality if he DIDN’T change his mind about public financing.

No, what’s got us disturbed and distrusting him – yes, DISTRUSTING Obama – is his sudden support for the “compromise deal” to “fix” the federal government's domestic spying powers (the FISA law), with its retroactive telecom immunity and the legislative perfume it sprays all over the pig-patch of the Bush administration’s shredding of the Constitution. Compromise? Sen. Russ Feingold calls the new bill “not a compromise; it is a capitulation.”

Why? Why would Obama do this? (Never mind Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats. We essentially gave up on them months ago, and determined ourselves to be merely pleasantly surprised if and when they ever decide to stand up to El Presidente.) Glenn Greenwald asks the whither Obama question better than I:
It's either that he "chickened out" or ... Obama believes he will be President and wants these extreme powers for himself, no doubt, he believes, because he'll exercise them magnanimously, for our Own Good. Whatever the motives -- and I don't know (or much care) what they are -- Obama has embraced a bill that is not only redolent of many of the excesses of Bush's executive power theories and surveillance state expansions, but worse, has done so by embracing the underlying rationale of "Be-scared-and-give-up-your-rights." Note that the very first line of Obama's statement warns us that we face what he calls "grave threats," and that therefore, we must accept that our Leader needs more unlimited power, and the best we can do is trust that he will use it for our Good.

Whatever. But Republicans who claim to love the Constitution and who profess themselves giddy that they’ve gotten the congressional Democrats to cave on FISA might want to consider these extraordinary spying powers in the hands of a president of the other party. We don’t want them in the hands of a president of EITHER party.

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