Readers of this blog know that I have been a supporter of Barack Obama since I first met him at a party David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Speilberg threw in February of 2007 to intoduce Barack and Michelle to Hollywood. At the time it was assumed that Hillary had Hollywood tied up in her campaign and so this party was a real shock to the Clinonistas in town. So in the last week friends, daughters and sons have asked me “what’s up with Barack” on this move to the center? So I start by saying that every indicator, including the The Poll of Tracking Polls on the left tell me that they are running a superb campaign. Of course it is in the self interest of the Chris Matthews of this world to pretend like the race is much closer than it is. But all indications say that the last ten days of Barack getting attacked from the left has helped his numbers.
So let me take the three issues in order.First FISA. The good thing about the rewritten FISA bill is that it establishes the power of the FISA court over NSA spying on Americans, whether in the U.S. or abroad. The warrants have to be obtained within seven days. So no phone company will allow one of these “passthrough-wiretaps” without the FISA warrant.
As to the immunity for the telecoms, from Barack’s point of view starting in January 2009, I can’t imagine he wants to start his term in the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” business, investigating AT&T, Verizon, et al. through whose switches flow 90% of the country’s internet traffic. I know there are lots of people on the left who want revenge on the big telecoms, but it’s a fools errand. First off to think you have any privacy is pretty naive. That super market club card that gets you all those discounts is used to sell your profile to thousands of companies. Finally, because the Republicans since Reagan and with the help of Clinton in the Telecom Act of 1996, we have a Duopoly/Oligopoly structure to the media/telecom sector. Therefore, any attempt to do any sort of 21st Century detective work, will require having access to the networks of the duopolists (AT&T & Verizon; Comcast and Time Warner). What the law now says is that a warrant from FISA has to be provided.
Whether the Internet should be privately owned is another question–one that Vint Cerf of Google is raising.
On Faith. This one I don’t get. Obama has made it very clear from the outset that he personally saw the power of the faith community when he was a community organizer. The younger generation of Millennials never had the personal experience of seeing Rev. William Sloan Coffin lead a Peace March or Rev. Martin Luther King be carried away in handcuffs. They think that Faith Based community means Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Well it doesn’t and the left better get ready to break bread with the Stewardship community.
Iran The cooler heads like Bob Gates, Joe Biden and Barack Obama know what’s going on.
Senate foreign affairs panel chairman Joseph Biden called on the Bush administration to hold direct talks with Iran similar to those with North Korea that led to commitments to end the hardline communist state’s nuclear weapons drive.
We should be wary of John McCains immediate embrace of the Reagan like “Missle Shield” over Europe as the perfect Military Industrial Complex answer to the new Iranian threat. As Juan Cole Points out, the shifting sands in the Mid East are upsetting McCain’s balance. Even on Iraq he has problems.
McCain always had a difficult case to make to the American people about why they needed to expend blood and treasure to stay in Iraq. McCain maintains that it is for their own safety, but polling shows that most people do not buy that argument. Now McCain has to argue for keeping the troops there even though the Iraqi people and even the pro-American prime minister do not want them there.
That position will sound like colonialism to many Americans– an expensive, sanguinary colonialism that they have to pay for. Individual Americans, including babies, have spent $2,000 each on the Iraq War so far, money a lot of them wish they had back right now (that is $8000 for a family of four.) Between its lack of legitimacy and its cost, they typically don’t want it.
Ultimately I am convinced that Obama is the best candidate to run for the presidency since Bobby Kennedy. This country needs so much healing. As The Band said, we need to get “across the great divide”. For all the critique from the left, which God Knows I heard in the spring of 1968 when I went with Kennedy–Obama is a transformational progressive candidate. Just remember “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”