Dumb Politics: They're the New Smart Politics!

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Julian Sanchez finely fillets Lanny Davis—an unusually terrible Democratic spokeslemming, who always seems to be understudying for Alan Colmes—on the politics of FISA and Obama's tortured position on telecom immunity. First, Davis:

No doubt Senator Obama has felt political pain to be attacked publicly by his most ardent supporters. But the benefit is that he has reminded voters that as president he would be more committed to the "solutions" business than to yield to the pressure to prove his ideological purity to his party's base. Many of the swing voters who will decide the election — soft Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans — have been waiting to see if Senator Obama can resist such pressure and follow this approach.

Now some Sanchez:

I am so, so, so tired of this bullshit spin. I have never seen any evidence that most of the public even understands what is actually at issue in this debate, let alone that they're demanding Immunity Now! In any event, folding to the White House and then boasting about "defying the progressive base" is not an impressive display of courage if "the progressive base" happens to be right on the merits. If the bill is a good deal, that's enough of an argument for supporting it. This resort to a lot of sideshow misdirection about Obama's bold autonomy from the netroots should suggest how thin that argument is.

I'd add something to the discussion of the raw politics: There's not even any evidence that FISA is a losing issue for libertarians and the left. Oh, pro-snooping Republicans have tried to make it one. Take this ad for Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) from 2006.

The ad was widely praised. "Expect more ads like this one from Johnson and other endangered Republicans as we get closer and closer to Nov. 7," reported Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post. "While terrorism and national security may not be as clear an electoral winner as it was in 2002 and 2004 for Republicans, it helps gin up their base and is the best issue the party has in one of the toughest political environments for their party in recent memory."

And what ever happened to that terror-loving Chris Murphy, anyway?

Oh.

Tim Lee has more on FISA politics here. And politics aside, I'm remembering how six, seven, eight months ago, Sen. Barack Obama was telling reporters he'd give back some of the ill-gotten presidential power of the Bush years. This is the first reversal of that since Obama locked up his nomination. I don't expect it to be the last.

NEXT: Is the Price of Freedom the Closing of Lesbian Bars?

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  1. Jesus, that is bullshit lightly salted and served cold.

  2. Julian Sanchez finely filletes Lanny Davis

    If my mother had done a decent job of raising me, I wouldn’t have misread that as “finally fellates.”

  3. Sen. Barack Obama was telling reporters he’d give back some of the ill-gotten presidential power of the Bush years. This is the first reversal of that since Obama locked up his nomination. I don’t expect it to be the last.

    I think Sanchez is basically correct (Obama’s FISA move may be characterized as many things, but *brave* isn’t one of them). However, I think it would be more fair to characterize this as Obama giving to Congress powers that the government shouldn’t have, rather than just keeping it for himself as Bush had done.

    There’s having illegal powers, and then there’s having illegal powers outside the scope of any sort of framework or review. Obama has come down unfortunately in Column A, but that is a far cry from Bush’s column B.

  4. Jennifer,

    She did just fine.

  5. I think Julian is letting his preferences – which I share, btw – get in the way of his political analysis.

    The fact that the public isn’t clamoring for immunity or for a new FISA bill at all doesn’t weaken the argument that it helps Obama to be seen defying his base. Quite the opposite – if the only thing the public knows about the FISA bill is that Obama pissed off his base to vote for it, that makes it even better as a “Sistah Souljah” moment.

    The Republican argument about national security isn’t “You agree with our positions,” it’s “I have the strength and character to be a tough guy.” Going back to McGovern and the Congressional Democrats forcing the end of the Vietnam War, Democrats have suffered political damage for even popular anti-‘security’ positions, and the Republicans have been able to secure advantages from “standing firm” on even unpopular hawkish position.

    So as much as I dislike the FISA bill, Lanny Davis, and this political reality, I’m afraid I have to agree with Davis, the heat Obama is taking over this will probably work out to a net gain for him.

  6. Wow, I didnt think it was possible to use the words “smart” and “politics” in the same sentence. LOL

    http://www.iurlz.com/datools

  7. I am so, so, so tired of this bullshit spin.

    Sadly, that’s all there is these days. Even the newly sainted Tim Russert relied upon a predictable spin-fest on his weekly show. Bring on a Democrat and a Republican (but rarely a libertarian), ask them both the same question, and listen to their wildly divergent takes on reality. It’s the same on every cable news program. This is what they call “balance,” and the public is ill-served by the circle-jerk.

  8. Wow, I didnt think it was possible to use the words “smart” and “politics” in the same sentence. LOL

    For the love of God, shut the fuck up.

  9. Obama is a coward who isn’t “defying” his base as much as he is betraying it for absolutely no good reason.

    The best thing that can be said about Obama now is that he isn’t John McCain.

  10. “I have the strength and character to be a tough guy.”

    How does grovelling at the feet of the most unpopular Administration ever and a GOP that is dead on its feet show that Obama has the strength and character to be a tough guy?

    “Standing up to your base” can only demonstrate that you’re tough if in the process you don’t offer yourself up as a prison bitch to George W. Bush. I don’t think that being W’s ass rape victim is a tough guy attribute.

  11. That’s a little strong, Fluffy.

    It’s a minor capitulation on a major issue, one issue of dozens. And as joe pointed out, he’s against the most risibly bad part (telecom immunity). Personally I think that the Bingamen Amendment would have been best (and also most likely to pass).

    Again, two columns. Unlawful power in the hands of an unitary executive is infinitely far away from unlawful power in the hands of congress, with inspectors general and courts, etc. checking the use of that power.

  12. Politicians don’t compromise on the things they want. The only reason Obama voted the way he voted previously was to win the Democratic election.

    This is just the typical, special interest pandering to the base unless it involves thousands of pages of trade agreements, forfeiture of sovereignty, loss of civil liberties, reducing the size of government, or imperial maintenance. That’s when they make the “hard decisions”.

  13. Um, Obama voted against immunity.

    That’s some good spin you’re selling there, but I’m not buying. This is going to going to drive the far left insane, and Obamaniacs all around America are going to be more confused than ever.

    It’s not even like his “Yea” vote was needed to pass the bill, as it was filibuster-proof by a rather comfortable margin.

  14. And, PS, am I alone in not wanting a “tough guy” for the next president of the US? I personally have had it with tough guys.

  15. So as much as I dislike the FISA bill, Lanny Davis, and this political reality, I’m afraid I have to agree with Davis, the heat Obama is taking over this will probably work out to a net gain for him.

    So agreeing with Republicans when they’re on the wrong side of an issue that most voters don’t understand, in an attempt to fool swing voters into thinking you’re a squishy centrist when you’re not, is politically astute?

    The audacity of hoping voters are fools?

  16. I agree with Fluffy and Glenn Greenwald. Maybe Fluffy is Greenwald.

  17. The “political posturing” argument is just the same crap they used to make Republicans feeling like they were cunning when they voted for Big GOVERNMENT Republicans. What that get them?

    It’s so the kool aid drinkers, not mentioning any names here, could rationalize the vote without feeling completely stupid when they vote for another establishment goon that’s been hoodwinking them since he made that empty speech four years ago. For penance he will have to say change at least 5 times in his next speech, hope at least six times, and some other fluffy nonsense and all will be forgiven.

  18. Fluffy,

    How does grovelling at the feet of the most unpopular Administration ever and a GOP that is dead on its feet show that Obama has the strength and character to be a tough guy?

    I’m talking about the perception of Democrats on security issues, not partisan back and forths. That’s why the beginning of the sentence you truncated was The Republican argument about national security isn’t “You agree with our positions,”. It’s also why I went on to talk about the political history of Democrats being harmed by taking less-hawkish positions, even when those positions were more popular.

    You’re clearly very emotional about this, and it’s intefering with your analytical skills.

  19. Dave,

    Way to go. You spoke ill of St. Obama. Be prepared for the 300 post count of the defenders of Senator Obama, D-IL.

  20. Mike M.,

    I guess we can discount all of Ron Paul’s No votes on spending bills, then, since they were all going to pass regardless, too.

    prolefeed,

    So agreeing with Republicans when they’re on the wrong side of an issue that most voters don’t understand, in an attempt to fool swing voters into thinking you’re a squishy centrist when you’re not, is politically astute?

    Hell yeah, when the issue is related to national security. I don’t like it, and I think things are changing, but that’s how politics have worked in this country for the past three+ decades.

    PC,

    What that get them? Control of all three branches of government. You need to learn to separate your conception of what should be from what is.

  21. You know, I just noticed: there isn’t a single acutal argument, piece of logic, scrap of evidence, or demonstration that anything I wrote was wrong.

    Just more of the same, partisan “Of course joe’s wrong, because what he says doesn’t make the Democrat look bad enough” we usually see.

    The irony is, I didn’t even write anything favorable about Obama this time, just described the political reality. Oh well. Same old.

  22. joe | July 9, 2008, 3:31pm | #

    How does this reconcile his all over the place position on Iraq?

    Taking one position at one time and another at another time is where they look weak. Didn’t the Dems learn anything from 2004? The crap that they are feeding you, and that you are graciously accepting, is a bunch of nonsense. This vote will not sway swing voter towards him.

    How is the “I voted against the war in Iraq, see the weather vane to see where I currently stand on Iraq, I will meet with any tyrant at their bidding, but at least I’ll tap your phone and bail out the telecoms” platform going to make him look “tougher”?

    Just wait until the flip flop videos come out.

    And people wonder why it takes a Nixon scandal or a super politician like Bill Clinton to get a Dem President. With masters of strategy like this McCain should just stay home and take pills with his wife.

  23. Don’t jack the thread, PC. I’m sure there will be an Iraq thread on which we can argue about how many angels you can squeeze in between Obama’s statements about his withdrawal plans in November vs. his statments about his withdrawal plans this month.

  24. joe | July 9, 2008, 3:38pm | #

    It didn’t get them three branches of government, conservative rhetoric and balanced budgets got that. They would have imploded a lot faster if it wasn’t for 9/11. Around 1999 they started warning about the need to become moderate. How have the trendlines looked since then?

  25. PC,

    The Left still owns the judiciary below the SCOTUS and they own the Congress.

    Not sure what branches of government you are saying belong to who.

  26. joe | July 9, 2008, 3:42pm | #

    Didn’t jack the thread. The argument is that this will make him look tough. When you look at the totality of his other positions it won’t do that by one bit. Iraq, which is a big issue, Obama has said he wanted immediate withdraw, that he wouldn’t promise troops out by the end of his first term, and now who knows what the hell he will say now that he fooled the Dems in the primary. That is what happens when you have no track record but a fancy speech.

  27. Sure, PC.

    Only positions that make libertarians happy are politically astute.

    Personally, I think Obama is going to pay a huge – HUGE – political price for not coming out against single-family zoning and for gay marriage, becasue I find that projecting my own political preferences onto the voters at large is a really, really good idea.

    Around 1999 they started warning about the need to become moderate. How have the trendlines looked since then?

    They ticked up sharply, until the Iraq War became a debacle and Bush proposed to privatize Social Security.

  28. PC,

    Obama has said he wanted immediate withdraw, Nope, sorry, try again. Barack Obama never said he wanted “immediate withdrawal,” like Paul and Kucinich. He has always been talking about a slow, careful withdrawal accompanied by a diplomatic surge.

    That his political opponents thought it would be useful to describe this position one way in 2006 and a different way in 2008 doesn’t demonstrate a change in his policy, just a dawning awareness of the unpopularity of their own.

  29. joe | July 9, 2008, 3:46pm | #

    Go back to 1994 and look at the rhetoric that won.

    Why did the Democrats take Congress?

    Iraq, corruption, and irresponsible spending, no one believed the Republican rhetoric anymore. The Dems backed into Congress majorities and have been bending over for Bush ever since.

    Dems ran against Bush, not for anything, oh except an end to the Iraq War that never happened. They ran against illegal spying but they just made it legal instead.

  30. Dave,

    Has reason examined Sen. Obama’s ‘evolving’ position on private gun ownership yet (forgot if I saw it here yet), or is that coming up soon in the series? 😉

  31. A plausible argument could be made that Obama missed an opportunity to turn this into a highly-visible issue and lead a high-profile charge against telecom immunity and an amended FISA in general. It’s true that some Democrats who did that in Congressional races saw benefits from that, even in swing districts.

    But that’s a different matter from arguing that putting up a small fight instead of a big one on a low-visibility issue is going to harm him.

    I would have preferred he do the former, but I’m not going to pretend that Average Joe voter is out there has telecom immunity at the top of his issues, or even knows what the issue is. This is pretty inside baseball as political issues go.

  32. PC,

    Go back to 1994 and look at the rhetoric that won.

    OK: “Congress is corrupt.” The Repubicans in Congress then proceded to lose seats in the 96, 98, and 2000 elections, running on the old-line-conservative line, while Bush won in 2000 running as a “Compassionate Conservative.” I can recall him warning his party that they’d “better not balance the budget on the backs of the poor.” He won, they lost. Then he put Frist in as Majority Leader.

    Why did the Democrats take Congress? Iraq and corruption.

  33. Um, Obama voted against immunity. He voted in favor of evey amendment that would have stripped or weakened immunity.

    I think, strictly speaking, we will be able to say he voted against immunity before he voted for it. He did, say after all, that he will vote for the final bill even if it includes immunity.

    He has always been talking about a slow, careful withdrawal accompanied by a diplomatic surge.

    Aside from the hoo-hah about diplomatic surges, lets be very clear about Obama’s position on Iraq until last week.

    He has said he will engage in an unconditional withdrawal of 1-2 brigades per month, so that all American combat forces, are out of the country in 16 months.

    Now, of course, his position is identical to that of the Republicans – we will withdraw as prudent according to the commanders on the scene (and, of course, as requested by the Iraqi government).

  34. “The Repubicans in Congress then proceded to lose seats in the 96, 98, and 2000 elections, running on the old-line-conservative line, while Bush won in 2000 running as a “Compassionate Conservative.””

    See humble foreign policy and large tax cuts.

  35. If only he would change his position on domestic energy exploration, then THAT would make him a Democrat I could stand . . .

  36. Um, Obama voted against immunity. He voted in favor of evey amendment that would have stripped or weakened immunity.

    Joe, that’s a bit disingenuous, don’t you think? Yes, it’s awfully nice that he voted in favor of those three amendments immediately prior to voting in favor of the final bill. I guess he can now truthfully use the line that he voted against it before he voted for it.

    At best (and I think it’s a leap) this says that Obama doesn’t really like telcom immunity, but that it’s not nearly enough for him to reject the final bill…which is also awful for other reasons.

  37. He didn’t change his energy stance yet, did he?

  38. He has said he will engage in an unconditional withdrawal of 1-2 brigades per month, so that all American combat forces, are out of the country in 16 months.

    Nope. He said that was his intended plan. You, RC, were writing comments about he “wouldn’t even promise to have all the troops out by the end of his first term” on these very pages LAST WINTER.

    Now, of course, his position is identical to that of the Republicans If the Republicans are now renouncing a permanent troop presence in Iraq, then it is they who have adopted Obama’s position. But, of course, they aren’t. They are continuing to argue in favor of a permanent occupation, promising that it will look just like South Korea and West Germany, and hoping nobody notices that “draw down troops levels” is the same thing as “withdraw from Iraq.”

  39. PC,

    See humble foreign policy and large tax cuts. Yes, the Republicans were running on a humble foreign policy (such as, opposing involvement in the Balkans) and large tax cuts when they lost seats and the presidential election in 1996, when they lost seats in 1998, and when they lost seats in 2000. They did, however, win the presidency in 2000 – that is, a Repbublican who ran as a compassionate conservative and chastised the Republican Congress for their lack of compassion won the White House.

  40. Principles are for pussies.

  41. Stretch,

    It’s no disingenous, it’s accurate. He voted against telecom immunity when telecom immunity was the issue.

    I agree with you about the overall bill, btw – he’s agaisnt telecom immunity, but doesn’t consider it a deal-breaker.

  42. No, ProL, principles are for losers.

  43. Episiarch,

    Perhaps you’re right. Maybe we should conduct elections and select the candidates with the fewest votes for office. Couldn’t do any worse than we’re doing now. What’s appalling to me is the lack of outcry about how godawful these two candidates really are (for different reasons). Can’t we just do the primaries again? We could just appoint someone inoffensive, say Wilfred Brimley, as president until the do-over election is completed.

  44. I agree with you about the overall bill, btw – he’s agaisnt telecom immunity, but doesn’t consider it a deal-breaker.

    Which runs directly counter to his previous statements on the issue. In my view, he made a largely symbolic protest vote against immunity before caving (along with many other dems) to the republicans and the Bush administration.

    Either he actually believes that this bill is a net positive or he’s purely playing politics with a significant civil liberties issue. This does not warrant respect in my book.

  45. I think a good rule of thumb for deciding who to vote for is to opt for the person to whom you would most willingly give access to your bank account.

  46. LEAVE SENATOR BARACK ALOOOOONE!

    He is the most brilliant, good looking, handsome man of color to ever have graced the floor of the HOUSE OF SENATE!

    All of his positions are dead on! Do you want the country to be a shooting gallery? You probably do because you are a RACIST FASCIST BIGOT AND YOU WANT BLACK PEOPLE DEAD DEAD DEAD!

    He is for reasonable gun control. How can you people be so unreasonable? All restrictions are reasonable, dumbass. Don’t you know where we get our rights from?

    He was a community leader. A COMMUNITY LEADER! When John MickFrankenkain was just a stupid Senator from hickville USA. MickFrankenkain never lead a community, SENATOR OBAMA DID!

    He wants us out of Iraq NOW! Stupid idiot republictard, what do you think NOW means? Do you think it means right now this second? Morons.

    Every time he explains, EXPLAINS, his position you idiots make up something fake about him, like he did not vote against the war in Iraq. WELL HE DID! AND HE TRIES TO CUT OFF FUNDING BUT HIS VOTING MACHINE IS CONTROLLED BY REPUBLICTARDS!

    Now he votes to keep our phones safe from THE MAN and to jail those racist corporatist fascist thugs at the telephone companies and and and you MAKE UP MORE LIES!

    [grabs rainbow “Free Tibet”, made in China, book bag and storms off spilling french bottled water all over cafeteria]

    [the above was ranted in the shrill, hysterical, high-pitched, whiney, teary eyed Leftie art student voice]

  47. I like Guy’s “shrill leftie” posts, because it’s clear that he actually believes that what he writes is demonstrably dumber and more hystrical than what he writes in all seriousness.

    That’s some funny right there – like the kid who does a lame comedy routine in the cafeteria and thinks everyone is laughing WITH him.

  48. Joe, did the final version of the bill include immunity?

    Did Obama vote for the final bill, despite that?

    The answer is yes and yes. He voted for immunity. This is a reversal.

  49. No Name Guy,

    Are you talking about S. 2248 (FISA Amendments Act of 2007 )?

    Senator Obama did not vote on that one, but he did vote for the amendments to remove telcom immunity from it.

    It passed 68 Yea, 29 Nay, 3 not voting, February 12, 2008, 05:30 PM.

    I report, you decide just how ‘tough’ of a position this is.

  50. IIRC 2/12 was a primary election night, so he at least had somewhat of an excuse not to vote.

    But now, he voted, and he voted yes for immunity, after voting no.

  51. Oh yeah, and he was a Pat Buchanan protectionist in the rust belt primaries, but now is a self-described “Free trader”.

  52. NNG,

    What is the latest bill? I found the above info here.

  53. NNG,

    Crap! That would have been great in the shrill post, but I forgot about it!

  54. I like Guy’s “shrill leftie” posts, because it’s clear that he actually believes that what he writes is demonstrably dumber and more hystrical than what he writes in all seriousness.

    It is. The difference is that you agree with it. You just can’t see past your own predjudices, and accuse everyone else of your own faults.

    Fuckwits aside,I wouldn’t say so much that Obama has changed anything, as in order to change you have to have a position to begin with. As he has done and continues to do, he uses weasel words and obfuscations to prevent any kind of definite stance. He is doing a masterful job of letting people project their own views of “change” on him, combined with their own racist guilt, and avoiding saying anything of substance, and he deserves credit for that.

    Does he think us stupid? Undoubtably so, but we really haven’t given him any reason to think otherwise as a general public. He’s got, on the one hand, the joe’s of the world that will love him regardless, who don’t do much to represent an intelligent and critical thinking populace. On the other hand, he has people who get so insanely rabid about Bush they don’t see what they’re stepping into as they’re running away from Bush.

    The man is most probably laughing his ass off, much like Chavez saying “I respect private property rights”, but it’s typical to his actions thus far so is it really newsworthy?

    That would have been great in the shrill post, but I forgot about it!

    If you hit them all, that would result in saturation pretty quickly.

  55. All the hair-splitting justifications in the world won’t change the fact that Obama voted to pass a bill that would decrease civil liberties for Americans. And how a senator actually votes is far more important to me than what he says about how he votes.

  56. He said that was his intended plan.

    Oh, well, that changes everything, joe. The difference between “it is my intended plan” and “I will” is massive. Just massive.

    C’mon, joe. I quote Obama on what his position is, and all you can come up with is this niggling wiggle? You can do better than that.

    If the Republicans are now renouncing a permanent troop presence in Iraq, then it is they who have adopted Obama’s position.

    Horseshit. It has never been a US government position that we will have a permanent troop presence in Iraq regardless of conditions. I require a link to support your assertion to the contrary.

    From yesterday

    We will withdraw, but … the victory we have achieved so far is fragile and (the redeployment) has to be dictated by events and on the ground,” McCain said, mirroring the Pentagon’s line on the issue.

    The Obama campaign responded by bringing up a comment by McCain from 2004, when he said that if a sovereign Iraqi government asked American forces to quit Iraq, “it’s obvious we would have to leave.”

    Just admit it, joe. Obama has gone from “I will filibuster FISA immunity” to a yea vote on FISA immunity. He’s gone from “out of Iraq in 16 months” to “out of Iraq, well, sometime”. He’s tacking to the center. You can believe in that change, joe.

  57. Obama won’t be a liberal President. He can’t afford to be, because hes black and thus if he governs as a liberal people would be see him as a radical socialist.

    Hes going to govern as a squishy, milquetoast post-Johnson Democrat. And, just like in the 90s, theres going to be a whole lot of whining from The Nation (this time joined by Kos) about how he betrayed his base, etc.

  58. No Name Guy,

    Do you bring this level of purposeful obtuseness of all aspects of your life?

    What part of “voted against immunity, but for the final bill” is causing you such difficulty?

    Do you not understand that large bills often contain numerous different elements? Do you not understand how the committe process works? What, exactly, are you having such trouble with here?

    When the votes were against telecom immunity, he voted against them. When that failed, and immunity got included in the final bill over his objections, he voted for the bill. Are you under the impression that there is some disagreement about what happened today?

  59. So, Obama was against immunity before he was for it? Interesting. I think he can smell power in the air and he knows that it will soon be his.

    I’m so pissed about this that I don’t know what to think. One of the few positives (as I saw it) with a D in the Whitehouse was that maybe some of this type of shit would be rolled back. Obviously not.

  60. My positions on FISA, telecom immunity, NAFTA, marijuana decriminalization, leaving Iraq:

    Change You Can Believe In!

    Even more Change! to come.

  61. See, Other Matt, you need to keep it short.

    When you’ve got more than about four lines in your comments, I just go right by them.

    Come on, trolling isn’t that hard.

  62. Joe-

    He was against immunity, but voted for immunity then?

    Good luck defending that. Its a good thing hes more charasmatic than John Kerry at least!

  63. Oh yeah, and he was a Pat Buchanan protectionist in the rust belt primaries, but now is a self-described “Free trader”.

    Yeah, remember when he said he wanted to include labor and environmental protections in trade deals, and now he says he wants to include labor an environmental protections in trade deals?

    That bastard.

  64. He was against immunity, dude who thinks playing dumb is really clever, but when it passed over his objections, he voted for the final bill.

    How many times would you like me to write this? If I write it two more times, do you think you will be able to figure it out?

  65. Joe, if Obama pissed on your head and told you it was raining, would you believe it?

  66. Ok, if you don’t have a problem with the Constitution and our civil liberties being scrapped in the name of political expediency, good for you.

    Lets be real. Obama is voting for the bill with immunity to cover his ass so in case Charlie Black’s dream comes true and a terrorist attack does happen before November, McCain can’t say “Without FISA, it could’ve been much worse and Obama voted AGAINST FISA!”

  67. RC,

    I agree, there is very little difference between “I will withdraw” and “My plan is to withdraw.” I’m not sure why you are pretending that represents some huge difference. It doesn’t.

    Now, McCain – if I believed for a second that he was actually talking about withdrawing all American troops and not maintaining a military presence, that WOULD be significant. I wouldn’t even accuse him of flip-flopping, I’d applaud him for his reality-based willingness to acknowledge that occupying countries that don’t want us there is a bad idea. But, sadly, he hasn’t made the policy change you attirbute to him – he’s latching onto the popular position of withdrawing from Iraq in rhetoric only, using “withdraw” to mean “draw down troop numbers” while still arguing for a significant presence of American troops.

    It’s a principled disagreement about what our strategy should be – should we stay or should we go? We both know where Obama and the Democrats stand, and we both know where McCain and the Republicans stand. One of these sides is eager to point out the difference, and the other is eager to blur them, because we can all read polls.

  68. No Name Guy,

    How many times would you like me write that I disagree with Obama on FISA, and would have preferred the bill to fail? By my count, this makes four now. Just on this thread.

  69. And the part where I talked about how Obama was doing this because it was smart politics turned, in NNG’s mind, into an assertion that he was voting for it out of principle, how, exactly?

    Hi. I’m joe. I write stuff, and if you have and ideas about the stuff I write, let’s talk about them. I’m certainly not shy about writing stuff on these threads, so if you want to argue politics with me, you don’t need to make things up to talk about; you can actually find stuff I’ve written, and talk to me about that.

  70. Joe, if Obama pissed on your head and told you it was raining, would you believe it?

    Piss Shower Surprisingly Refreshing; I Give It A B+

  71. joe, please report to Unqualified Offerings ASAP. mds would like to have a word with you.

  72. You know what’s a good indication that somebody is letting partisanship cloud their judgement? When they write things that are factually incorrect or illogical, but tend to make the party or candidates they support look better.

    You know how many of the statements I’ve made have even been challenged as being factually incorrect or illogical on this thread? Zero. Nobody has even been able to find an argument I’ve made to take exception to.

    “That can’t be true, because it makes the Democratic candidate look better” doesn’t actually demonstrate your opponent’s partisanship. It demonstrates your own.

  73. Joe, you did not state you “disagreed” with Obama on telecom immunity until your 5:57 post. So no, you didn’t say four times that you disagree with Obama on telecom immunity.

    Before that, it almost looked like you were trying to defend him. I guess you weren’t.

  74. Obama will probably profit from this, by picking up votes from “security moms” bedwetters, but hes just lost the support of a whole lot of civil libertarians.

  75. No Name Guy,

    I’m sure it looked like that to you. Let’s go to the tape:

    joe | July 9, 2008, 3:02pm | #

    I think Julian is letting his preferences – which I share, btw – get in the way of his political analysis. That’s one.

    So as much as I dislike the FISA bill Two.

    joe | July 9, 2008, 3:54pm | #

    A plausible argument could be made that Obama missed an opportunity to turn this into a highly-visible issue and lead a high-profile charge against telecom immunity and an amended FISA in general. It’s true that some Democrats who did that in Congressional races saw benefits from that, even in swing districts.

    But that’s a different matter from arguing that putting up a small fight instead of a big one on a low-visibility issue is going to harm him.

    I would have preferred he do the former Three.

    joe | July 9, 2008, 4:09pm | #

    Stretch,

    It’s no disingenous, it’s accurate. He voted against telecom immunity when telecom immunity was the issue.

    I agree with you about the overall bill, btw Four.

    So I was wrong – that was actually the FIFTH time I’d made the statement you managed not to see me make.

  76. Obama will probably profit from this..

    Yes, but not in the way you think.

    He’s not going to go around getting credit from bedwetters for this vote, but what it will do is make it more difficult for McCain to make terrorism and counter-terrorism the subject, instead of Iraq and the economy.

  77. OTOH, now McCain can do the Kerry flip-flop stuff on him. So maybe he won’t profit from it.

    Voted against it before voting for it, blah blah…

    It makes one wonder how Obama really would have voted in October, 2002 had he been a U.S. Senator at the time. He probably would have been right there with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, rolling over.

  78. So what a politician says he’ll do is more important than what he actually does? Maybe that’s what Homer Simpson was thinking of in that one episode when he told his daughter “I make lots of promises. That’s what makes me a good father.”

    Then Lisa objected a good father’s supposed to keep promises, not merely make them. But Lisa whines too much, just like the people who think that it’s not enough for Obama to say he’ll vote against telecom immunity; he has to actually vote against telecom immunity when the bill comes before the Senate.

    And he didn’t.

  79. And here I was, excited that Clinton didn’t get the nomination. Oh, well.

  80. Jennifer,

    He voted against telecom immunity, all three times, when it came onto the Senate floor. I don’t know where you’re getting this babble about “what he says/what he does.” He did exactly what he said – vote, repeatedly, to strip telecom immunity from the bill. So did just about all of the Democrats.

    He just failed.

  81. He voted against telecom immunity, all three times, when it came onto the Senate floor.

    Except for that final time, when the Senate decided to either accept or reject it. Obama voted to let the bill pass.

  82. NNG,

    OTOH, now McCain can do the Kerry flip-flop stuff on him. So maybe he won’t profit from it.

    What do you think McCain wanted more? “He’s a flip-flopper” or “He voted against keeping America safe?”

    Flip-flopper is a consolation prize. From a raw political standpoint, McCain has exactly one position of strength – he win the issue of terrorism. Obama didn’t give him anything to help him with that, or to make that issue more prominent.

  83. Except for that final time, when the Senate decided to either accept or reject it.

    No, every single time the issue of telecom immunity was being voted on, he voted against it.

    You know, if you all weren’t so desperate to spin this the way you want, you could produce an accurate statement to describe the votes that happened today. It would look something like this:

    He voted for all of the amendments to strip telecom immunity from the bill, but they didn’t pass, and it made it into the final bill. Then, he voted for the final bill, which included the immunity he had tried to remove.

    But that doesn’t serve your political purposes, so you just can’t bring yourselves to do it. You have to contort the English language so far to try to make the point you wish to make, that you end up not being able to make a factually-correct statement. What’s that tell you?

  84. You know, if you all weren’t so desperate to spin this the way you want, you could produce an accurate statement to describe the votes that happened today. It would look something like this:

    He voted for all of the amendments to strip telecom immunity from the bill, but they didn’t pass, and it made it into the final bill. Then, he voted for the final bill, which included the immunity he had tried to remove.

    And this excuse can cover any bad vote he makes: he voted for all the amendments to make torture illegal, then, he voted for the final bill, which included the torture-is-legal clause he tried to remove.

    He voted in favor of a bill containing telecom immunity. Maybe he held his nose while he did it; doesn’t matter. If the bill becomes law, he’s on the list of people who voted to make it happen.

  85. You have to contort the English language so far to try to make the point you wish to make, that you end up not being able to make a factually-correct statement. What’s that tell you?

    My point is that when the Senate voted to either pass or reject a bill containing telecom immunity, Obama voted in favor of it. Do all the contortionist tricks you want; fact is, the bill passed the Senate, and Obama voted for it.

  86. The difference, Jennifer, is that I’ve never disputed the poinit “He voted for the FISA bill that contained telecom immunity.” I never contorted myself in the slightest; I acknowledged that fact, and criticized him for it.

    You, on the other hand, wrote that “he has to actually vote against telecom immunity when the bill comes before the Senate.

    And he didn’t.”

    As a matter of fact, he did. Several times.

  87. I’ve never disputed the poinit “He voted for the FISA bill that contained telecom immunity.” I never contorted myself in the slightest; I acknowledged that fact, and criticized him for it.

    And then try making excuses for why it really isn’t so bad.

    Joe, seriously: let it go. The Democrats played us both for suckers. I voter almost straight Democrat in 2006 because like you, I believed them when they said “The reason our country’s going to shit is because the Republicans have all the power. Hey, America! Give us Democrats a majority and this will stop!”

    They lied. We fell for it. That sucks. But it’s better to admit it and move on than flail about making excuses why the new boss really is better than the old boss, even though they pass the same damned bills through the Senate.

    The telecom immunity bill passed and Obama voted for it, along with lots of other Democrats. As far as telecom immunity is concerned, the Republicans may as well have kept their majority status in 2006.

  88. Does anyone doubt that this is a complete reversal of his prior stance? Not just that he would vote against immunity, but that he would support a filibuster of any bill containing immunity.

    Oct. 24, 2007: “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

    Dec. 17, 2007: “Granting such immunity undermines the constitutional protections Americans trust the Congress to protect. Senator Obama supports a filibuster of this bill, and strongly urges others to do the same.”

    Feb. 12, 2008: “I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grassroots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty.” (That was a week before the Wisconsin primary)

    Obama’s rationale for voting for this bill? “The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I’m persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe — particularly since certain electronic surveillance orders will begin to expire later this summer. Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise.”
    But Obama voted against those certain surveillance orders which are expiring later this summer. Make up your own reasons for why he did it, they are as good as any.

  89. And then try making excuses for why it really isn’t so bad.

    Really? Could you point out where I did that?

    I’ve made factual statements, none of which anybody has even attempted to disprove, beyond mumble mumble democrats joe mumble.

    But people manage to see all kinds of things that they expect to see, or want to see, and I’m certainly used to that at this point.

    Anyway, I didn’t (unlike you, apparently) vote for Democrats in 2006 because I had some notion that the skies would open and we’d have perfect government. I voted for Democrats because I agree with their political philosophy much more than that of them opponent.

    And today just shows I was right – check out the little letters after everyone’s name in those links I provided. We have one party that voted 100% for this bill and 90% for telecom immunity, and one party that voted by lopsided margin against both. As a civil libertarian, I sure as hell know which party I want to be setting the national political agenda.

  90. Can we just all agree it sucks to be a sitting Senator running for President because of votes like these?

  91. On that note, why hasn’t Harry Reid been smart enough to set up a shit-ton of embarrassing votes for McCain?

    Oh thats right. Because he is Harry Reid, and he really isn’t too bright.

  92. No doubt, NNG. There’s never just “telecom immunity, up or down?” It’s always “the street urchin polio vaccination and feeding your grannie to a tiger act of 2008.”

  93. Anyway, at least now I know Obama will be a Clintonite centrist on economics. Hes going to follow his Wal-Mart lovin’, Chicago Boy economic adviser as he moves to the center.

    I’ll enjoy watching Naomi Klein foam at the mouth.

  94. I’ve made factual statements, none of which anybody has even attempted to disprove, beyond mumble mumble democrats joe mumble.

    No, Joe, what I’m saying is: the fact that he tried to pull telecom immunity out of the bill does not matter compared to the fact that telecom immunity passed the Senate, and Obama voted for it. No matter what he said or did beforehand, ultimately he voted in favor of a bill that will grant telecom immunity.

    His failed amendments won’t do a damn thing to mitigate the situation if this bill becomes law. Maybe they’ll make you, personally, feel better about Obama, but that’s about it.

  95. I will make this comment: A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

  96. the fact that he tried to pull telecom immunity out of the bill does not matter compared to the fact that telecom immunity passed the Senate, and Obama voted for it.

    His failed amendments won’t do a damn thing to mitigate the situation if this bill becomes law.

    The amendment votes had a chance of working; trying to scuttle the final bill did not. That the final bill would pass was a foregone conclusion, but that was not the case with the amendments. They had a chance.

    I find it more important for political figures to take actions that matter, to put their energy into fights that could plausibly make a difference, than to stage purely symbolic acts.

    You’ve got it exactly backwards, Jennifer. Voting against the bill that was certain to pass would have served only to make me feel better. Voting in favor of the amendments that actually might have squashed telecom immunity is what matters.

  97. Pro Libertate,

    So there is no difference between Ron Paul and Don Young, because none of Paul’s votes against line items and spending bills ultimately succeeded.

    I beg to differ.

  98. I can’t wait for Sen. Obama to introduce a Chicago style gun ban for the entire nation, then vote against it so he can say that he is against unreasonable restrictions.

    Not unlike Rep. Rangel’s draft slavery bill from a few years ago, that he ended up voting against too.

    This is a fun game!

  99. Watching joe squirm like this is one of the true highlights of these threads. I only wish Fluffy had come back to bury him, but Jennifer and No Name Guy came on strong. If you think joe contorts now, just fucking wait until the election is imminent and, for the real deal, if Obama wins.

  100. Be thankful you weren’t born a woman, Joe; you’d be the type to marry an abusive husband and then attack anyone who dared criticize him. He’s a wonderful man who only hits you when you deserve it. Really. He never would’ve broken your arm if you could just learn how to make a decent goddamned cup of coffee for a change. Seriously. And if people could only see the way he looks at you when he tells you he’s sorry, they’d know that having him break your arm is totally different from having an abusive husband break your arm.

  101. Other Matt said this unironically:

    You just can’t see past your own predjudices

    But on a serious note, this thread harkens back to a classic series of arguments about ‘selling out’.

  102. In even funnier news, Mrs. Clinton managed to vote against the FISA bill.

    I wonder if this will be a topic at the convention.

  103. The morning news gets even funnier as Rev. Jackson whispers that he wants to sexually mutilate Sen. Obama!

    My money is on the Senator kicking the Reverand’s butt if anybody gets near his crotch.

  104. I had a whole rant set up to direct at Jackson, but I’ll save it for the inevitable thread.

  105. APOG,

    Does not look like anything is happenining with that topic on H&R any time soon. (hoping for reverse karma effect)

    BTW, check your e-mail!

  106. Gotcha. Checked my E-mail.

    Anyhow, I think what Jesse Jackson said was pretty revealing about his real attitudes and what I considered might be jealousy.

  107. Anyhow, I think what Jesse Jackson said was pretty revealing about his real attitudes and what I considered might be jealousy.

    Sounded downright hostile. Such talk from a pacifist! It is so, you know, predictable. LOL!

  108. I’m confused about your argument, joe. Obama pretty clearly promised to vote against the bill, not just vote for amendments to the bill.

    If it was, as you seem to say, going to pass no matter what Obama did, why then was it at all necessary for Obama to vote for it (especially since he’d already promised not to do precisely that)?

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