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Nomination in hand, Obama stiffs the Dem left on FISA vote

That Barack Obama jog toward the political center now that he's won the Democratic nomination appears to have turned into a full-fledged dash today. And there's a lot of folks on the left side of his party that are unhappy.

But, to be Chicago kind of candid, whatcha gonna do about it?

Today, the freshman senator from Illinois voted in favor of the FISA bill that provides retroactive legal protection to cooperating telecom companies that helped the feds eavesdrop on overseas calls. Up until a few weeks ago -- let's see, that would be shortly after the last primaries settled the Democratic nomination and terminated what's-her-name's once frontrunning campaign -- Obama adamantly opposed the bill. "Unequivocally" was the word his people used.

"Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said last fall. In December, as ABC's Jake Tapper notes, Obama's office said: “Sen. Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies and has cosponsored Sen. Dodd's efforts to remove that provision from the FISA bill."

In February, Obama voted for an amendment to carve the retroactive immunity out of the measure. And he said: "I am proud to stand with Sen. Dodd, Sen. Feingold and a grass-roots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty. There is no reason why telephone companies should be given blanket immunity to cover violations of the rights of the American people."

Let's see, those statements were all made during that endless Democratic primary season.

After June 4, Obama said: "It is a close call for me, but I think the current legislation with exclusivity provision that says that a president -- whether George Bush, myself or John McCain -- can’t make up rationales for getting around FISA court, can’t suggest that somehow that there is some law that stands above the laws passed by Congress in engaging in warrantless wiretaps."

Never mind that it's confusing. It's supposed to be. Yes, he's usually a real good talker. But he wanted to avoid providing a clear-cut quote for future use against himself. Bottom line, today Obama voted for the measure he has so long opposed. So he was against the bill before he was for the bill.

And guess what? His primary primary opponent, Hillary Clinton from the Empire State, the one who got ditched by much of the Democratic left in favor of this new guy from Illinois who had no visible warts, she voted against the bill. Talk about retroactive regret by some.

"It's ironic so far, I suppose," one commentor wrote on OpenLeft today, "that Clinton is of late a more reliable ally than Obama." Over at Wake up America they provided a detailed accounting of the excoriating of Obama by alleged supporters on the candidate's own website.

With his vote unnecessary for victory, Sen. McCain spent the day in Ohio, of all places, which just happens to be the state that Republicans do not win the White House without. If you get our drift.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Comments () | Archives (20)

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What can Democrats do about it? There is no nominee. Superdelegates switch their votes to Clinton. She's the nominee. It's that easy. And I would advise Democrats to do it quickly.

Disappointed as I am with Obama right now -- does anyone think, for a SECOND, that Clinton would have done differently if SHE'D gotten the nomination?

She didn't even show up the last time the bill came up.

Now there's a sucker punch. WOW! As all America knows, the left can be fooled out of their own property and children within minutes.

Proves that he's firmly in the pocket of the secret government. Sad.

Let's nominate Mel Gibson for President and stop all this arguing. Why not have another actor for President? Ronald Reagon didn't do such a bad job.

And THIS is what Hillary supporters have been trying to tell everyone... you simply cannot trust Obama, because no one really knows what he stands for!

Sure he stands for change, as in "change" his mind on whatever is politically expedient for him. For now he says he will not raise taxes for middle class Americans, but IF he is elected, we have no assurance he will keep his word. BUT one thing we do know, he WILL raise taxes!

The kool-aid drinkers have done their damage. Hope they're willing to pay for it... I'm NOT.

They took him to the dance and now he is switching partners. Maybe in November they also will switch their vote.

VJ Machiavelli

I too was angry when I first learned of the FISA vote several weeks ago. I emailed Obama and told him I would make no more contributions to his campaign if he did this vote. I was upset until tonight when I saw exactly why he did what he did.

McCain made the following statement after the vote: "We have to have the ability to monitor communications between terrorist organizations and individuals who want to destroy America and everything we stand for," said McCain. A lightbulb went off when I heard his prepared statement.

Can you imagine what that statement would have been if Obama had voted against the bill? Could you see the pundits and the 527 ads that would be running right up until election day? This would have been Obama's Swift Boat moment and most likely would have cost him the election.

All of us that actually know what is going on might deny that, but the facts are, it will be people that barely pay attention to real news and believe the ads that run during commercial breaks, that will be choosing the next president. They are the ones that tilt the scale. Sad, but true. Obama would have been gutted. Right now he is surprisingly strong on foreign policy and terror. This vote would have stripped that from him. Not in the eyes of those that already support him, but in the eyes of all those that might. Those that will decide at the last minute or those on the fence. Obama would be accused of supporting terrorists and those who want to destroy America and everything we stand for.

Obama just proved to me that he is not going to be taken down that way. If Obama is elected, Russ Feingold stated tonight that he will introduce new legislation to correct this bill. My guess is President Obama would support that legislation. Can't know for sure, but I would bet a good sum that all of this was already discussed and decided in the back room poker games. You have to remember that a lot of democrats all down the ticket are up for re-election. This bill vote could have been an axe used against them all. Yes, we know what the bill really does, but most americans don't. They will only know what the Republicans tell them and we all know how they sold this bill!

Draft Al Gore...

anyone who will lie, steal, cheat - even for 'tactical reasons' etc - to achieve their goals, can be expected to continue doing so once they achieve those goals. obama and mccain are certainly not exceptions there. while power might corrupt, it's the corrupt who seek power. their obsession with manipulation and control is pathological, a serious disease, causing suffering throughout the world. only principled integrity will heal it. who is worthier of your support, someone who will abuse it as soon as they can, or someone like candidate for president RON PAUL who will tell the truth even though he knows you might not like it when you hear it, and who does not offer empty rhetoric and cosmetic change, but real solutions?

Unless you have worked in systems development for 25 years as I have, then you have no idea what they can do if they can find ANY bogus pretense to install software in the Internet data stream -- Lets look at one single example -- manipulation of global energy prices :

With nothing to show for my trouble except being left alone to enjoy dead silence, I have told my Republican representative, the Department of Justice, and anyone in this corrupt government that would listen to me since 2002 that Internet based commodity auction (energy trading) markets are entirely corruptible and given the money involved almost certainly so. The issue is that the Internet was never built to run auctions -- so they have an unintended Achilles heal. The problem is that computers used by bidders to these online auction markets set their time by making unencrypted port 13 calls to time servers in order to set their time, and since these calls use frames of unencrypted plain text these frames can be nefariously intercepted and manipulated in transit between the bidding computer and the time server. The net effect is that it is possible to manipulate the clock settings on either the computer running the auction or on the computers of the bidders. A nefarious 100 mille second time shift (one tenth of a second) on a 4 meg connection is enough to push a thousand bids by one market participant in or out of an auction time window, but insufficient to not be attributed to excess traffic on the Internet slowing things down and resulting in a slightly off clock setting. Consider the genius of this scam -- without ever touching the communication between a bidder and the auction system (which might be monitored) you can affect the outcome of the bidding process by affecting an entirely different communication which isn't monitored between the bidder and a time server. You pick your winners and losers and thus affect prices over time by altering their time windows to make them individually either bigger winners or bigger losers. This is a crime which cannot be detected or punished, but it will leave consumers punished at the pump -- so at least someone gets punished . Bravo !

In Barack's defense, I think they would have assassinated him if he took away the punch bowl. Oddly he did the right thing.

I guess we'll have to write in Howard Dean or something. What a disgrace.


Congressional health being at an all time low indicates that the Kennedy Liberals and Reagan Conservatives have set a date with the guillotine for the desperately united Leiberman Neo-Libs and Podhoretz Neo-Cons, for the their notorious subversive Neo-Marxist contempt of Christian Culture and Constitutional Law.

For the illegal Iraq War for Israel, for the illegal Mexican occupation, for the sacrificial killing of children, for the outsourcing of jobs and technology to China, for the subprime loans and stock trading scam, for dependence on fossil fuel, and for the blooming recession and inflation; the rallying cry shall be “off with their heads”.

You obama apologist really disgust me, obama is a FRAUD and always has been. Your pathetic attempt to shift the attention away from obama to Hillary shows your cognitive dissonance is in full effect the problem is Hillary's life and history only show what shallow ignorant bafoons you are in trying to lay this at her feet.

As for the LA Times you would have better served the public by vetting obama long before this, there was and is plenty of factual information out there that tells people what a fraud he really is, it is just to bad you and your paper decided to GUSH all over him like he was the second coming.

I am a lifelong Democrat and I fought against the rightwing stealing the elections in 2000 and 2004 and I will be damned if I ever support obama and the DNC after there stealing the primary on May 30, 2008 by stealing delegates away from Hillary and giving them to obama and giving obama votes he never receieved and breaking every rule and principle the Democratic party used to stand for. If Hillary isn't the nominee, McCain gets my vote my country is at stake and this time the danger is coming from my own party.

America wake up. Why are you surprised when Obama changes on issues. He told you he will bring change. Now all you have to do is just hope. Hope for what, he dosen't know, he's too busy changing. Hope and change, yes he can, but only if his emotional speeches bring it about. you obamanics are out of touch with reality.

A former democrat.

It's obvious nobody is happy about this topic. However, generally what I've gathered is that Obama is losing supporters to McCain.

Wake up people! McCain is not the only alternative. Consider a candidate like Bob Barr. Sure, you don't hear about him much in the media, but that's because the media is run by the money hungry Rep and Dem parties.

Check out Bob Barr at and make your vote count for an experienced candidate who is fighting to decrease government power with rhyme and reason. Don't settle for the lesser of two evils.

Vote for Bob Barr!

How about we elect someone that stands up for our Constitutional Rights??

You know, there are more than 2 candidates in this race. Lets show America that we want our rights protected, not overruled by fear-mongering that BOTH parties are responsible for.

Libertarian 08.

Is the Illinois junior senator overplaying his hand ? You bet your ass he is...The French call it "la fuite en avant "
His switch to the right is so obvious and radical it smacks
of panick. What is this bum's top priority ? The Clinton's
appear like boyscouts and amateurs when compared to
this prince of the rate he is going he will no
doubt implode into the biggest political flopsicle and the dems will one more time clinch defeat from the jaws of
victory...hey nothing wrong with that.No bama .

It is time to calm down and view what has happened in its proper context -- In control of every aspect of government, the Republicans never thought they would ever see the day that the FISA machine was turned on them -- of course they now want to curb it and the Democrats want to retain it so they meet in the middle.

The power to monitor and attenuate the communications of an entire sector of American society who the people in power regard as enemies and competitors is very useful. You call fully control their access to business opportunities, jobs and political organization -- is not something you give up just to be decent -- it is something you wait your turn for. I have no problem with Democrats turning that machine on the Republicans -- it is time to teach these people a lesson they never will forget -- especially if after everything comes out that they did the last 8 years and the Republicans are not back in power and able to use FISA for their purposes for another 40 years. I call it POETIC JUSTICE in capital letters.

Everyone knows or at least should know that politics are all about compromise. Everyone comes to the table with his or her list of demands and at the end of the day if you walk away with most of them you count yourself a winner. Those that don't compromise effectively can count themselves losers. Because they go home with nothing on their list. Its a lot like marriage. You hate that he spends all those hours watching Monday Night Football but then you recognize that MNF only comes once a week.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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