So, rumor has it that Obama's starting to suffer from backlash on his FISA vote. You see, a less invasive version of the FISA amendment was up for vote back in January, and Obama firmly opposed it at the time. The latest amendment grants the President far more sweeping powers of surveillance over American citizens, effectively gutting the Fourth Amendment, and Obama voted in favor of it. His excuse? "...can we get to the bottom of what's taking place, and do we have safeguards?" Compare that to six months prior when he said, "The FISA court works. The separation of power works. We can trace, track down and take out terrorists while ensuring that our actions are subject to vigorous oversight, and do not undermine the very laws and freedom that we are fighting to defend."
So, how else am I supposed to take this except a betrayal, a reversal on an issue I feel very strongly about? Even aside from telecom immunity ("just following orders" didn't fly for the Germans, so why should it now?), the FISA amendment was the worst bill yet proposed, especially to amend a process that works, just not enforced. You see, President George W. Bush has a history of simply ignoring any law or restriction he doesn't like. This FISA amendment theoretically reinforces the original restrictions of FISA, which he ignored. So what's to stop him from ignoring the restrictions of this amendment? Nothing. He knows he won't be impeached. He won't be censured. He won't even be investigated. All this amendment did was validate the powers he's already assumed on himself, with a stern shake of the finger to remind him to behave. I'm sure he'll immediately straighten up and fly right now that they shook their finger at him. Again.
In the end, it comes down to leadership. The Democrats swept the 2006 mid-term elections by promising the nation they would stand firm against the President and curb his abuses. Then they caved. And capitulated. And bowed. And did everything but stand firm, except once. Once. They have now reversed that stand by again giving everything the President demanded and more. That isn't leadership, that's surrender. The Democrats have truly earned the nickname "surrendercrats." Not because they surrendered to the terrorists, but because they keep surrendering to our Glorious Leader, George W. Bush.
Obama promises change. He promises hope. He talked tough about restoring our liberties and the rule of law. But when the time came to filibuster back in January? Well, he was busy on the campaign trail. When the another FISA bill returned in June? He reversed himself and supported it. That's not change, and it killed hope. This is what we can expect from him as President? In one fell swoop, he demoted himself from an agent of change to the lesser of two evils. I resent having to choose between the lesser of two evils.
A lot of Obama cheerleaders are saying that FISA is over, we need to move on. We need to get him elected. No. I will not move on. I demand accountability from my leaders, and I'm not going to endorse someone who eschews accountability for their actions. Obama explained his support and I give him props for addressing the issue instead of ignoring the protests, but in the end he still put his support behind a law that's as bad as the Patriot Act. I want accountability for it. I want to see examples of good leadership from him, to see that he's going to oppose bad laws in the future. I want acknowledgment that he screwed up, and guarantees of good behavior.
Does that mean I'm going to vote for McCain? No, McCain has long since abandoned his "maverick" role and embraced the policies of the Bush Administration. He never meaningfully opposed any of Bush's policies anyway. He wants more judges like Alito and Roberts on the bench, and that'll do as much harm to the nation as anything else. I'll probably still vote for Obama in November, but unless he acknowledges his failure and improves, I won't be cheering for him.