Monday, June 30, 2008

Glenn Greenwald on Obama's FISA Position

I greatly admire Glenn Greenwald. His posts in Salon are my required morning reading. Here are excerpts from today's blog, Keith Oldermann: Then and Now.

It isn't that difficult to keep the following two thoughts in one's head at the same time - thought it seems to be for many people:

(1) What Barack Obama is doing on Issue X is wrong, indefensible and worthy of extreme criticism;
(2) I support Barack Obama for President because he's a better choice than John McCain.

As but one example, John Cole was a vehement supporter of Barack Obama throughout the primary. He viciously criticized Hillary Clinton on a regular basis and raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama's campaign through his blog. But this week alone, Cole lambasted Obama for what he called Obama's "total collapse and a rapid abandonment of principle" regarding FISA and pronounced as a "pathetic performance" Obama's refusal to be photographed anywhere near Muslims or to meet with Muslim leaders. Despite that, just yesterday, Cole said:

No, I don't have buyers remorse. Yes, he still is better than Hillary or McCain. No, I am not disillusioned (I never thought he was a flaming liberal in the first place). I am, however, disgusted, and I will caution the Obama campaign that "better than McCain" is not much of a rallying cry. We all remember how "anything is better than Bush" turned out in 2004.

That's called being a rational adult who refuses to relinquish one's intellectual honesty, integrity, and political principles in order to march lockstep behind a political leader. Those who think that Barack Obama should not be criticized no matter how wrong he is -- or those who justify anything that he does no matter how craven and unjustifiable, including things that they viciously criticized when done by Dick Cheney or Harry Reid -- are no different, and no better, than those who treated George Bush with similar uncritical reverence in 2003 and 2004.

The real danger is that those who defend Obama the Candidate no matter what he does are likely to defend Obama the President no matter what he does, too. If we learn in 2009 that Obama has invoked his claimed Article II powers to spy on Americans outside of even the new FISA law, are we going to hear from certain factions that he was justified in doing so to protect us; how it's a good, shrewd move to show he's a centrist and keep his approval ratings high so he can do all the Good things he wants to do for us; how it's different when Obama does it because we can trust him? It certainly looks that way. Those who spent the last five years mauling Bush for "shredding the Constitution" and approving of lawbreaking -- only to then praise Obama for supporting a bill that endorses and protects all of that -- is to illustrate exactly the type of blind reverence that is more dangerous than any one political leader could ever be.

No comments: