Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Will Obama Filibuster FISA?

Short Answer: No

Long Answer: A filibuster is guaranteed to draw a lot of publicity. A filibuster by a presumptive nominee for President would draw even more publicity. That kind of publicity will draw a lot of attention to the question of Obama's national security credentials. A lot of negative publicity to be sure. It holds a lot of potential to be a bad fight for him.

Far better for Obama would have been stepping in early in this process and stopping the "compromise" from ever passing the House in the first place. If he we presume he had the desire and the ability to do this (and, as presumptive nominee of his party, which also controls the House, he would have had a lot of pull in this matter) he would have been smarter to do it then.

He did not.

Now ask yourself this: if Obama didn't want to get into a fight over FISA before it even came to the floor in the House, how likely is it that he wants to get into the same fight on the floor of the Senate? If we assume Obama is smart (he is) then the reasonable conclusion is that he wouldn't want to get into that kind of fight.

Therefore, he will not fillibuster FISA.

Unfortunately, Obama was not smart enough to realize that this is a fight that, if engaged early, could have reaped a lot of rewards. He punted and he will pay the price for that decision for years to come.


Blogger Anonymous said...

I appreciate the political aspects of the situation, but still do not see the value of interfering with the courts in such an important matter. It’s an insult to the intelligence of every American to assert that telco immunity has anything to do with national security. The only ones even suggesting it are lobbyists and their think tanks and politicians.

Surely this is not an example of the sound judgment Mr. Obama touts.

Moreover, consider that the only telco CEO to reject the warrantless searches ended up fighting for his freedom after the government brought charges that he inflated his company’s outlook. Yet that CEO says his company’s outlook only changed after his rejection of the warrantless searches resulted in lost contracts with the government. To provide the colluding companies with immunity is the worst message that could possibly be sent to executives of any other company that may be confronted with illegal demands in the future.

Just as the Qwest CEO will still have to prove his case in court, the others should have to defend their actions in court as well. Claims of civil and criminal acts against citizens should be resolved using lawyers, not lobbyists.

And what of equal protection? Should all citizens apply to Congress for retroactive immunity from their civil or criminal behavior? No, this is a paid-for law to protect those in a better position than most to defend their own actions – if they are defensible. Providing them immunity would create the perfect model for old politics and abandons the very concepts that have placed Senator Obama in his current position.

Surely, he must have his own data on this. Democrats clearly do not support it at all. So the question becomes, is Mr. Obama going to demonstrate leadership and represent Democrats in this matter, or is he going to disregard Democrats to facilitate the Republican representatives of telco Washington lobbyists? After all, these are the very type of Washington lobbyists that Mr. Obama says he will not be influenced by.

In conclusion, one may safely assume that a single vote for immunity will translate to tens of thousands of votes for Nader or other protest candidates – something I’m sure Al Gore would tell you, is not a good thing. And if you think people will vote for Senator Obama just because they disagree with the other guy, you may be surprised to learn that more than anything else, people need to believe that candidate is not lying to them; that the candidate really does believe in what he or she is saying and is willing to stand up when required. (Senator Clinton tapped into some of this during the last leg of her campaign.) Obviously, collapsing under pressure and abandoning your principles is likely to have the opposite effect.

How right Mr. Obama was to criticized Senator Clinton’s war vote. Is this to be his example of standing up when others will not?

11:52 AM  

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