Richard Blair – “FISA: Why I Can No Longer Vote for Barack Obama”

FISA: Why I Can No Longer Vote for Barack Obama

Barack Obama lost my vote today. I was never a rah-rah supporter, yet prior to the FISA bill vote today, I believed that I could suck it up and vote for whoever ended up being the eventual Democratic Party nominee. For the first time in my adult life, I’m faced with the unhappy prospect of staying home on November 4th.

Richard Blair | July 9, 2008

As a true, progressive Democrat, this is incredibly hard for me to write.

Since the start of the presidential election season, I’ve been quite clear that Barack Obama was not my first – or even second – choice as the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. But I’ve been consistent in saying that I’d support the eventual nominee, whoever he or she might be.

That all changed today. Actually, I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with the now-presumptive nominee since the time that the primary season officially ended. Barack Obama has been tacking toward the center since the time that Hillary Clinton quit her challenge in the race. From Iraq, to the abortion issue, to the Telecom Immunity Act of 2008, I’ve watched closely as Obama has tried to grab some middle ground, and attempt to diffuse future criticism of him by the GOP as being “soft on terrorists” and not a heartland values type of guy.

Earlier today, ASZ’s good friend Brendan commented on a prior post that as an Obama supporter, he’s experiencing extreme “buyers regret”. I can understand that feeling on the part of many starry eyed Obama supporters who felt that he was (in essence) the second coming of John F. Kennedy.

Let me pose a hypothetical: would John F. Kennedy have voted for the FISA bill today had it come up during his time as Senator? …

Not a chance in hell. Kennedy was not averse to saber rattling against perceived enemies (see: Missile Crisis, Cuban), but he was also a staunch defender of the founding principles of this country. While JFK called a generation to a higher purpose (”Ask not what your country can do for you…”), he (and his brother, Robert, and his successor, LBJ) was a bulwark against the destruction of civil liberties that the likes of cross-dressing J. Edgar Hoover espoused.

Today, Barack Obama shed his skin; the skin that enticed so many people into believing that he did, in fact, support the United States Constitution, and in particular, the fourth amendment to same.

Why has he lost my vote? Quite simply: trust. If I can’t trust a self-described constitutional scholar to defend basic constitutional principles, even with a vote on the losing side of a constitutional issue, how can I trust him with (for example) future Supreme Court nominations? After today, I can’t.

I know that Obama’s FISA vote won’t mean a thing to his hard core supporters. They’ll make excuses the same way that George W. Bush’s sycophants make excuses for him. “Oh, he had to vote this way, or the GOP would paint him as soft on national security.”


The FISA vote today made absolutely no difference in the GOP’s “weak on terror” mantra. That’s why it’s so hard to fathom Obama’s yea vote on the FISA bill. In fact, the GOP is already casting him as a flip-flopper on the issue: He was against warrentless wiretapping before he was for it. He was against telecom immunity before he was for it. So where does Barack Obama really stand?

I can see the TV commercials already, soto voice-over.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I hate this crap. I really, really, do. I’m bone weary of Democratic Party politicians pandering to a mythical “independent voter”, when in actuality they’re doing no more than trying to siphon a scant few votes from the GOP rank and file.

The bottom line is that there is political reality, and then there is principle. Barack Obama has billed himself as a new breed of politician who will stand up on principle. It should be clear today that he’s reneged on that promise. He’s been revealed as an old school politico, who sticks his finger in the wind to see which way it’s blowing.

I don’t know which political forecaster he was listening to on the FISA bill issue, but I think he seriously misjudged the direction of the shitstorm that’s rising tonight.

Update: Good to know I’m not the only one out here feeling this way.

Update II: Greenwald, wordsmith that he is, puts an exclamation point on my frustration:

Obama’s vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama’s spokesman — in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama’s views on the spying controversy after he had previously given a vague and noncommittal statement — issued this emphatic vow:

To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.

But the bill today does include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Nonetheless, Obama voted for cloture on the bill — the exact opposition of supporting a filibuster — and then voted for the bill itself. A more complete abandonment of an unambiguous campaign promise is difficult of imagine…

The character assassination of John Kerry as a “flip flopper” in 2004 was largely a product of the GOP noise machine. The abandonment of principle in 2008 by Barack Obama, in the middle of an election fight, is the true embodiment of the charge.

Update 3, 7/10/08: Today, ASZ runs a four-part series on yesterday’s FISA debacle. Here are the links:

FISA: The Mourning After, Part 1
FISA: The Mourning After, Part 2
FISA: The Mourning After, Part 3
FISA: The Mourning After, Part 4


The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: