Opinion: Will Obama’s FISA vote come back to bite him?


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A day after the Senate signed off on controversial changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the dust hasn’t quite settled on that issue. Salon feels betrayed, but National Review‘s not surprised at all. Michelle Malkin crows, ‘The heartbroken nutroots are foaming at the mouth. Hoist, meet petard. ‘ The New York Times ed board voices its disappointment, but Top of the Ticket puts it bluntly:

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?


Some point out, however, that Obama has at least been open and responsive in his thinking on the issue. Not only did he let his website host a petition asking him to reconsider, wrote the Caucus, but he even responded:

Today’s exchange also brings to mind an issue The Times’s Katharine Q. Seelye brought up in one of her recent Web columns. “Is it possible to translate the online expertise developed during campaigns into running the federal bureaucracy?” she asked. “To take the energy that goes into manipulating voters to win elections and convert it into listening to voters and being transparent, accountable and accessible?” A significant portion of Mr. Obama’s note addressed accountability: I learned long ago, when working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, that when citizens join their voices together, they can hold their leaders accountable. I’m not exempt from that. I’m certainly not perfect, and expect to be held accountable too.

But perhaps we should be asking a different question: Will this vote help Hillary Clinton, who voted against the bill? Daily Kos wonders whether she’s still triangulating, and Matthew Yglesias of The Atlantic wryly observes:

I don’t believe that if Clinton and Obama swapped roles that they’d be acting any differently. But the reality is that as long as Obama thinks he’s going to be wielding executive authority, he’s going to be useless as a check on out-of-control executive authority. If Clinton wants to channel whatever regrets she has about losing the primary into taking up that cause, well, I think that would be an excellent decision for her to make.

Cast your vote:

-- Amina Khan

*Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh / EPA