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Donít mention FISA
The Economist ^ | July 24, 2008

Posted on 07/25/2008 10:25:50 AM PDT by Schnucki

The online activists are angry with Barack Obama. But only a bit

IT WAS summer and it was Austin, where keeping things weird is a popular civic pastime. But for the 2,000 bloggers and readers at last weekend’s Netroots Nation, the mood was more wonkish than wild. The “netroots”—the online version of “grassroots” political activists—spent hours in panels on policy and technology, and kept up running analyses via blogs and Twitter. They allowed themselves to be plied with margaritas of an evening, but made it back for a morning question session with Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and a surprise visit from Al Gore. Ms Pelosi faced some grumbles; if your Congress has an approval rating of 14%, a friendly face is hard to find. But when a handful of women from the anti-war group Code Pink, wearing superhero costumes, stood up to shout for peace they were quickly escorted from the premises. The tweets on Twitter were swift and stern. “Don’t want to disrespect but code pink is so 1960,” wrote one.

For many on America’s left this has been a month of discontent. Since securing the Democratic nomination in June, Barack Obama has annoyed core supporters at several points. He announced that he would support expanded funding for faith-based initiatives and hemmed and hawed when the Supreme Court overturned the District of Columbia’s gun ban. Neither of those should have been a surprise, given that he campaigned on a post-partisan platform. His decision to opt out of public financing was a more egregious flip-flop. But most of the netroots, who pride themselves on raising money for candidates, give him a pass on that one.

The cruellest cut came on July 9th, when Mr Obama voted for a new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This gives the executive new powers of warrantless wiretapping and provides retroactive immunity for telecoms companies that worked with the Bush administration to spy on Americans. During the primaries, he had promised to support a filibuster against such a provision.

The netroots tend to overestimate the political impact of the FISA vote. During one session they discussed how to defuse the issue should it ever come up on the door-knocking circuit, although most voters are more concerned with petrol prices. And Mr Obama’s vote made no practical difference; two-thirds of the Senate voted for FISA. But the netroots are fair to criticise him for it. “It’s a candidate-killer for me,” blogged Roseanne Cahn.

This has given Mr Obama’s opponents false hope. Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate, was also in Austin to speak at a smaller gathering of right-wing bloggers. He bought a day pass to Netroots Nation and stopped by in an effort to rustle up votes. He was greeted with amused interest. But Mr Obama does not have to worry about many defections, at least judging by the crowd in Austin. “There is an enormous and vast ocean of difference between Obama and McCain,” says Ali Frick. “He’s clearly the only choice we’ve got in this race,” said Randy Shields. Tom Schrandt, who is from a conservative town near Dallas, took it one step further: “We’re going to have to meet somewhere in the middle to make the country work.”


TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2008; fisa; issues; netroots; obama

1 posted on 07/25/2008 10:25:50 AM PDT by Schnucki
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To: Schnucki

Was the left complaining about FISA when Jimmy Carter signed the Democrat-Congress’ FISA bill into law? Was the right defending it?

I’m too young to remember, but my instinct is to be against anything enacted first by Mr. Peanut.


2 posted on 07/25/2008 10:43:42 AM PDT by underground (Socialist government: saving us from the mistakes of socialist government since 1913)
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