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?
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.