What changed, exactly?

Here’s the FISA bill that Barack Obama voted for after saying he wouldn’t. It’s hugely complicated.

Here’s a Volokh post that says coverage of it has been misleading.

What isn’t misleading is that he voted for a bill that he said earlier that he would oppose. (TPM has a timeline.) In his last statement he said that the bill had changed.

How, exactly? What was the tipping point, and why?

Did he do it to get votes? Surely he should have known that it would cost him the grace and support of his base. And slow his money river as well.

Did he do it on principle? Obviously two principles were involved. The civil liberties one he espoused last January and the security one that drove his vote six months later. One is a left principle, the other a right. The right one won. No pun intended.

Obama’s campaign is about getting past partisanship, at least in part. But this vote hardly did that. Instead it pissed off his most fervent partisans.

I’m also not sure the bill made the country safer, either. But I dunno. As I said, it’s a complicated bill. Maybe one or more of the rest of ya’ll can figger it out.

Meanwhile, it hurt him, bad. That helps McCain.

8 comments

  1. jonathan peterson’s avatar

    This was a big deal to me as well. It’s one the right can’t capitalize on because they’ve supported the immunity from the start, and some have opined that it’s Obama moving to the right to win the general election and that people aren’t going to vote for McCain instead over this issue.

    I did get a very good letter from the Obama staff when I sent a email about the issue, and certainly hope that if elected Obama will be on the side of the EFF and ACLU in striking immunity from the law, but a candidate who is running in such an inspirational, aspirational, change in politics as usual manner is going to be hurt, much, much more badly when he turns to politics as usual actions like this.

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Agreed. What’s aspirational about the Obama campaign, and about Obama himself, is a transcendance of Politics As Usual, and that includes pandering, or even apparent pandering. And crap the press loves to hound, like “tacking” the campaign’s ship in shifting political winds.

    He owes us all an explanation — one that’s a lot better than we’ve had so far.

    Could be that the security concerns override the civil liberty concerns, and even that Obama is now in possession of privileged information he didn’t have before. And it could be that the carriers do need immunity if they’re to serve national security purposes. At least that argument can be made. (It’s one I’m not ready to buy, but I’d like to hear more about it.)

    But all we have right now, far as I know (and I know far from everything), is something worse than a change of mind. It’s a betrayal of a promise made. That requires more attention than we’ve seen so far. Again, faik.

  3. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    But Doc, it’s Politics As Usual that’s gotten the last N presidents elected. Claiming that you’re not going to follow that path is tantamount to saying that you don’t want to win.

    The problem is very simple: In order to get the nomination, Obama had to look like the center of the Democratic party. In order to get elected, Obama has to look like the center of the U.S. populace. That means shifting his stances on a number of issues. This WILL (as you say) piss off his supporters. But so what? Who else are they going to vote for?? McCain? Nader?? Barr???

  4. Erik Visser’s avatar

    It gave me the shivers when I read it. I saw some vids of people who understand the “complicated” bill in the end it just gives the people in power the oppertunity to listen in without the legal system getting in the way. Gave me even more shivers.
    This hurts Barack. It hurt my image of the man anyway.
    I read somewhere McCain didn’t vote, he was making bad jokes instead. Interesting that that can be in your advantage.

  5. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Agreed on the politics, Russ. I just don’t see in this case how it won him votes. It was a low-upside high-downside vote — unless all he wanted to show was that he could sometimes vote with republicans on something/anything.

  6. gregory’s avatar

    they would have cut off his phone, it was a no-brainer

  7. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    Doc, I think it won him the law-and-order votes. The votes of the people who are scared of terrorists.

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