Reality Check

June 19, 2008

This presidential election is about real things, and it’s up to us to make sure the Democratic Party remembers that.

This Glenn Greenwald piece about Barack Obama’s game-playing on the issues of warrantless wiretapping and telecom immunity — and his endorsement of a shifty Blue Dog Democrat in Georgia over a progressive challenger — is a tonic reminder that elections are about choosing politicians, not saviors.

The telecom amnesty bill is something that has been engineered by telecom lobbyists from start to finish, while Bush officials engineer the part of the bill to provide full-scale warrantless eavesdropping powers. While the ACLU and other grass-roots groups have been shut out of the negotiation over this bill almost completely — it’s been conducted, like most important government processes, totally in the dark — telecom lobbyists are not only fully informed about what is going on but have been participating directly in the negotiations. Along with Bush officials, it’s the telecoms’ lobbyists who are “negotiating” with Congress over how to write the provisions of their own amnesty from lawbreaking.

This is everything Obama claims so vehemently to oppose, claims he wants to end. And yet the Congress under the control of his party is about to enact a radical bill to legalize vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers and immunize telecoms who broke our country’s laws for years. And not only is Obama doing nothing about any of that, but far more, he’s actively intervening in a Democratic primary to help one of the worst enablers of all of this stay in power, while helping to defeat an insurgent, community-based challenger.

The answer, as Greenwald points out, is not to blind oneself to Obama’s deal-cutting, or to stomp off and vote for Ralph Nader in whatever configuration he’s running under this year. Four more years of Bushism under John McCain would be an unmitigated disaster for this country.

There’s still plenty to like about Obama and I still prefer him to Hillary as a candidate. one of the most appealing facts about him is his willingness to scrap with the Republicans over their bizarro world attacks on him, and the ease with which he exposes their criticisms as vacuous and inane. Now I want to see him bring some of that combativeness to bear on the members of his own party who differ from the GOP only be degree.

Yes, Obama supported Lieberman in his re-election campaign against Ned Lamont. That’s blood under the bridge. For his trouble, Obama has had to listen to Lieberman calling him a Marxist. Lesson learned, I hope.

Obama is a politician who responds to pressures, as is the case with all politicians. Apply your pressure by calling his campaign office at (866) 675-2008 and letting his staff hear your displeasure. If you won’t speak up for yourself, then you can’t complain that nobody will listen to you.

2 Responses to “Reality Check”

  1. Verite Says:

    I agree. I hope people stop idolizing Obama and see that he’s only a politician, a charismatic politician who seems to care, but a politician nevertheless. I worked as a political communications coordinator for about six months this year for a “liberal” nonprofit, and people kept asking me which one of the candidates I supported. I’d preface whatever I said with, “Well, first, they’re all politicians and in general I don’t trust them.”

    However, when a top dog at the nonprofit asked me to recommend endorsement I said, Barack Obama. I helped with editing video of the Dems schmoozing the organization back when there were four Dem candidates, and I noticed a difference. Obama was the only one that did not agree with whatever the group said, a group with which he has roots. He told them point blank that while he’d like their members’ endorsement, he couldn’t promise them that he’d give them any special favor because that wouldn’t be fair. He said he’d have to look at other groups with solutions to X problem as well. And when some of their questions clearly showed bias to giving a particular answer, he didn’t just go along. He’d offer alternatives if he didn’t agree.

    Unlike the other candidates, Obama didn’t say this to a large crowd. Due to a scheduling conflict he couldn’t go the public forum and was spoke about three months later to the organization’s leaders in private. They didn’t release the video because they failed to invite all candidates, Dems and Repubs at the same time.

    The group did, btw, endorse him.

  2. Chucky Says:

    It’s too late to call Obama. The Democratic Party logrolled and approved the bill this afternoon, earning them praise from GWBush.

    He said he’d have to look at other groups with solutions to X problem as well.

    I have one word for you: AIPAC.

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