One day I hope to be able to unpack an idea like Larry Lessig. In this blog post, he explains his very level-headed reaction to Obama’s vote on the FISA bill.
It was a political mistake for the reasons I’ve already explained: it was self-Swiftboating. This shift is fuel for the inevitable "flip-flop" campaign already being launched by the Right. Their need to fuel this campaign is all the more urgent because of the extraordinary "flip-flops" of their own candidate. So anyone with half a wit about this campaign should have recognized that this shift would be kryptonite for the Barack "is different" Obama image. Just exactly the sort of gift an apparently doomed campaign (McCain) needs.
But again, to say it was a political mistake is not to say it was a mistake of governance. To do right (from the perspective of governance) is often to do wrong (from the perspective of politics). (JFK won a Pulitzer for his book about precisely this point.) So at most, critics like myself can say of this decision that it was bad politics, even if it might well have been good governance. Bad politics because it would be used to suggest Obama is a man of no principle, when Obama is, in my view, a man of principle, and when it is so critical to the campaign to keep that image front and center.
please, fellow liberals, or leftists, or progressives, get off your high horse(s). More on this with the next post but: it is not "compromising" to recognize that we are part of a democracy. We on the left may be right. We may be the position to which the country eventually gets. But we have not yet earned the status of a majority. And to start this chant of "principled rejection" of Obama because he is not as pure as we is, in a word, idiotic (read: Naderesque).