Saturday, June 21, 2008


Hanging Up

So, that FISA bill -- the one that extends more powers to the president in almost all of its iterations, the one that our elected Democratic officials have decided to line up behind for reasons that defy logic?
Passed the house yesterday
. You'll hear a lot of talk from our Democratic officials about how it's a better bill because it rejects Bush's "inherent authority" argument. You won't hear them talk about how it does this by handing the lawsuits of telecoms that aided Bush in spying on the American people off to another court, where the telecoms can have the lawsuits dismissed if they produce written proof that the president told them it was okay to break the law. In other words, if the president says it's not a crime, then it's not a crime.

Instead, what you'll hear is our leaders claiming that this bill is manna from heaven for a beleaguered Democratic Party that happens to be in the majority in Congress. You'll hear Nancy Pelosi offer the rock-hard endorsement that she could "argue it either way." You'll even hear Barack Obama, the man many of us hoped would revolutionize politics, cite his support for this measure by claiming that national security needs more support "given the grave threats that we face." They'll talk about how much they dislike the compromise, how much they wish they could change things. But they could have. They could have filibustered. They could have shoved a potato in the legislative tail pipe. But they were too afraid of another wave of negative publicity, of being seen as "weak." So they gave more strength to a program that flagrantly violates the Constitution.

I realize I don't play in politics. I realize I'm not the kind of person who has to make these choices. But I have elected the people who do have to make these choices. And I wonder why they didn't do everything they could to stop this. Maybe I'm just being incredibly naive, but I thought they'd realize that they have the power to do so. They have the power to hold it up. They have the power to launch a counteroffensive. They have the power to show America what's really at stake.

But they don't. They struggle vainly against it, and then just throw up their hands and say, "Okay." I honestly thought things might change this year. Still voting for Obama, of course, because the possibility of him is leagues better than the possibility of a McCain presidency.

I just thought things would be different. Silly me.

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