Saturday, June 21, 2008

Followup on FISA

Some have suggested across the blogosphere that regardless of what Obama does or does not do, the votes simply are not there to stop this bill from passing. There were only 128 nay votes in the House, and there will probably be little more than 30 in the Senate. Even with the influence Obama currently carries, it is indeed unlikely that he could sway enough of his colleagues to defeat this bill. Many of them are the infamous "Blue Dogs"; Democrats from conservative districts who invariably vote with the Republicans on issues of national security.

All true. Yet to posit that it would somehow disadvantage Obama by supporting a "losing bill", or that it would be dangerous to "alienate" his House and Senate colleagues is ridiculous.

First, it's never wrong to support a good cause. Obama should stand for what he believes in, whether it is politically expedient or not. Integrity and principle are their own rewards.

Second, by explaining in very clear terms why gutting the Fourth Ammendment and protecting lawbreaking telecoms so that Bush can cover his own ass are bad things (something that has never really been accomplished by the Dems), Obama could frame the debate in terms that are easy for anyone to understand. This would put major pressure on the Democrats working in support of this capitulation.

Finally, to risk "alienation" among fellow politicians is nothing compared to all the votes and admiration Obama would gain by taking a principled stand. What kind of leverage does some Blue Dog have over Obama anyway? None! Keeping his base happy is more important than keeping his House and Senate colleagues happy. They are only a few hundred votes, after all; Obama doesn't need them for anything. He's after millions of votes. And supporting this craven compromise (after repeatedly stating he would do the opposite) does very little to help him get those votes.

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