Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The limits of Obama on the FISA fight

By Libby

We probably won't win this one, but the battle is over yet. I have the details at Newshoggers but in the latest development it appears we may at least delay it for a few more weeks, maybe even months.

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to post this for a couple of days as an explanation of why I think Obama doesn't really have the power to move this issue. I've sees a quite few bloggers who are smarter than me about this stuff saying that Obama is the presumptive leader of the party now, but this speaks to why I don't think that's true.
I suspect that many established elites in BOTH the Democratic and Republican party will be secretly hoping that Obama loses this fall. He is new and different, above all because he is trying to remake and revitalize American democracy. His victory, using a campaign financed by millions rather than the few, and using federated approaches to civic engagement spread across dozens of states, would signal a turning point in U.S. democracy. This victory would not solve all problems in Washington DC. But it would show the value of a classic style of U.S. democracy that energizes the many rather than just the very wealthy or the highly educated few.
Obama is the new kid. He's got their attention, and maybe even some respect by dint of raising all this money outside of the customary channels but he's a long way from consolidating his hold on power within the party. It stands to reason that simply by his short tenure in the Senate he hasn't accumulated a lot of chits within the power structure and his whole approach threatens the status quo that has served the entrenched incumbents so well for all these many years and provided a comfortable lifestyle for them.

I'd agree that there are probably more willing to stab him in the back than there are enthusiastic about revamping the system to conform with Obama's stated vision. However, all the being said, I do think his embracing the "compromise" was a huge sellout and we should put some pressure on him to rethink his position. It should be couched carefully though so as to not unduly undermine his candidacy. He may be a dissappointment, but he's still the best hope we have of taking back the government.

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