Friday, July 4, 2008

The founders' genius

Senator Obama answered his critics regarding his position on the FISA “compromise” (so called) in a posting at his campaign site, see below:

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those of you who oppose my decision to support the FISA compromise.

This was not an easy call for me. I know that the FISA bill that passed the House is far from perfect. I wouldn't have drafted the legislation like this, and it does not resolve all of the concerns that we have about President Bush's abuse of executive power. It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses. That's why I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.


Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.

So I appreciate the feedback through, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the months and years to come. Together, we have a lot of work to do.

OK, this blogger won’t spend any time dissecting this “answer”, e.g. asking exactly why it is that legislation needs to be passed with an “exclusivity provision” that “makes it clear” that “no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court” when this is already the law of the land; what relevance it is at all that “the compromise bill is far better than the Protect America Act…”; why “the ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool” should now be a reason for voting for this bill when previously he had said that the current structure and rules were sufficient; why he now will vote for the bill when previously he had said that it (i.e. the exact same bill) was so flawed that he would support a filibuster; etc., etc. Others have done a far better job (see links below).

The definition of conversation (from is “an informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons.” In this case it appears to this blogger that the conversation is not between Senator Obama and supporters, it is between “primary Obama” and “general election Obama”, with the supporters being given the results.

Reading the (very large number of) comments to the Senator’s post at the Huffington Post and at the web site, many of those commenting seem to be in the ‘wow, he’s taking the time to talk to us, that’s never happened before’ and the ‘suck it up folks, the alternative i.e. McCain is unthinkable” camps. In fact, in his own posting Senator Obama also holds up the McCain boogeyman. However, this blogger would ask, given that the Democratic party is going to increase its numerical advantage and have clear majorities in both the House and the Senate, is it that bad of an idea to vote for a President McCain? We would then have divided government and large Democratic majorities would be there to temper any excesses of a McCain administration! Ah, the genius of the founding fathers…

Response from Barack on FISA
Obama's new statement on FISA
Vote NO on H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act
Obama: He'll Support Filibuster Of Any Bill Containing Telecom Immunity

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