Monday, July 07, 2008

"Hanging Tough with Obama When Obama is Not Hanging Tough"

Mark Karlin (BuzzFlash):
As I've mentioned more than once, BuzzFlash is the oldest and largest progressive Internet news and commentary site between the two Coasts. We have the perspective of the Heartland -- and we were founded on a premise that only when we hang tough for Constitutional values will we prevail.
The most basic and fundamental message of BuzzFlash -- long before the other sites that now get branded on television all the time (we were founded in May of 2000) -- was that you don't win victories by laying down like a doormat; and you don't sell out the Constitution, one person-one vote, economic justice and the energy future of our nation by cowering in a corner every time that the Republicans pull a national security scare.

Of course, there are other factors at work, like the DLC, which have made many Democrats as complicit as Republicans when it comes to voting with big corporations because of the money channeled to their campaigns by "K" Street lobbyists.

Barack Obama offered a vision of an end to this cowardice and betrayal.

We believe that he still does.

I want to make it emphatically clear that I and BuzzFlash oppose Obama's position on the latest House FISA bill; on "redefining" an Iraq pullout; on giving a green light to the unprecedented Supreme Court gift to the NRA; and on his "carve out" of exceptions to late term abortions that would exclude the mental health of a woman.

These are not progressive perspectives (although the Iraq statement was consistent with his prior qualifications -- and those of Hillary Clinton). We oppose his stances as stated above, and will continue to do so. As I have often stated, we are beholden to principles, not to an individual. As a grassroots organizer, Obama, we suspect, understands that.

There's been a lot of Internet speculation about why Obama made these counter-progressive comments. Is he following the advice of his strategists because he needs to ease the concerns of key voting blocks in new states that they plan to possibly pick up (e.g., Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Georgia, Virginia, etc.)? In that case, Obama loses some of his luster as being the "genuine" candidate. Or are these nuances that Obama actually believes? Or are they a lot of "dog days of summer" attention focused on issues that will pass once he becomes president and appoints Supreme Court justices who will lean progressive, along with having a heavily Democratic Congress, including the Senate?

The answer: probably a little of all of the above.

Being in Chicago, as we have said, we have worked with Obama in the past on some advocacy issues, such as putting an end to Payday Loans (although we have absolutely no connection with his campaign; we're talking about when he was a state senator). We also know a lot of people who know him from Hyde Park -- both socially and politically -- and elected officials who worked with him in the legislature.

Most of them will tell you this: if he has a core center upon which he will not compromise, it is related to Constitutional issues. We wager that he and his campaign know that Harry Reid doesn't have the votes to maintain a filibuster on the House FISA bill, so Obama is taking the chance to innoculate himself from the only thing the Republicans got to run against him; i.e., that he is a furtive Muslim sympathizer. As BuzzFlash has speculated before, we think that too many Democrats were given classified briefings about the FISA illegalities and would be implicated if Bush and Cheney were held to account. As for Telecom Immunity, show us the money. When you have the Democratic head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, cheerleading for Telecom Immunity, you know that the fix is in.

Do we justify such "business as usual" political moves? No, but we are going to hold our judgment on Obama, barring some radical departure from his primary positions, until he is elected. This guy is committed to the Constitution and BuzzFlash and the rest of the netroots are going to be all over him like a panther on the prowl if he doesn't roll back the Bush usurpations of the Constitution and our civil liberties. The same goes for abortion.

Because while he's made these objectionable statements, he's also been "framing" the national security issue in a way that Democrats have not done before; he is boxing McCain in on the definition of what makes our nation secure. That is the larger battle that has to be won.

We've talked with George Lakoff -- the master of "framing" -- and it is clear that he not only approves of Obama's ability to redefine and reframe issues to pull more people into the progressive tent, but that Lakoff has given the Obama camp advice and counsel.

That is very reassuring to us, because most Americans share progressive values, but they have been tugged by the demagogic slogans and think tank positions of the right wing. Obama has the ability to double down on the right wing by bringing in a larger context to the debate and debunking their charlatan bag of demagogic tricks.

So, I would contend Obama is hanging tough, even when it appears that he is not. The Democrats are going to try and realign the electoral map from the gridlock of the last two elections, and Obama is at a point in the election cycle when he is trying to up the comfort level of swing voters while closing off lines of attack from the Republicans -- or at least reducing their impact.

Will it work? We'll see.

But we'll end with this historical note. In 2000, before the theft of the election by Bush Inc., many BuzzFlash readers wrote us and asked what we would do if Gore won because we were so anti-Republican?

Our response was simple; we would keep advocating Constitutional principles and progressive values -- and when Gore deviated from them, we would criticize him. (Although Gore, after the 2000 election, then went through a transformation and became such a strong change agent and fiery spokesman of truth that he became disinterested in the compromises demanded by the political process.)

So it will be with Barack Obama. We will be there pounding away at his lapses when necessary while defending him from attacks from the right wing beer hall putsch crowd.

The power of government in America is derived from the people.

Let no president forget that, whatever his or her party affiliation is.

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