The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tap, Tap

Since Barack Obama is now the front-runner for the Democratic ticket, it’s time to look beyond his soaring rhetoric and charismatic persona and examine his positions on important domestic and international issues. Because he has so little real experience, his past record is thin, making an assessment of the man difficult.

Yesterday, however, the Senate voted on the “warrantless wiretap bill” that allows the US to work with telecom companies to intercept communications between suspected terrorists and others. Many democrats decried this bill as an invasion of privacy, yet, most voted in favor of the measure. However, 31 Democrats voted again it. Had it failed, an important intelligence source would have been crippled.

The Wall Street Journal comments on Obama’s vote:
Now and then sanity prevails, even in Washington. So it did yesterday as the Senate passed a warrantless wiretap bill for overseas terrorists while killing most of the Lilliputian attempts to tie down our war fighters.

"We lost every single battle we had on this bill," conceded Chris Dodd, which ought to tell the Connecticut Senator something about the logic of what he was proposing. His own amendment -- to deny immunity from lawsuits to telecom companies that cooperated with the government after 9/11 -- didn't even get a third of the Senate. It lost 67-31, though notably among the 31 was possible Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. (Hillary Clinton was absent, while John McCain voted in favor.)

It says something about his national security world view, or his callowness, that Mr. Obama would vote to punish private companies that even the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee said had "acted in good faith." Had Senator Obama prevailed, a President Obama might well have been told "no way" when he asked private Americans to help his Administration fight terrorists. Mr. Obama also voted against the overall bill, putting him in territory.

So, Barack Obama votes with the Democratic Left, allowing ideology to overcome common sense. No surprise, but telling.

I wonder if, as President of the United States, Barack Obama would be willing the fly blind, crippling a key source for intelligence. I wonder if as President, Barack Obama would allow lawsuits to be brought against those companies (or for that matter, individuals) who, acting in good faith, provided access and information to those who are trying to protect us all. It appears that he would.

But wait, the same ideology that Barack Obama applies also tells us that the threat has been overblown, that simple criminal procedures are all that are required to eliminate it, that it’s all about “fear” and not enough about “hope.” The same ideology that Barack Obama applies suggests that we can eliminate the threat (if there is one, mind you) via negotiation and concessions (think: appeasement).

It's time to move beyond the Bush doctrine, few would debate that. But do we replace it with a doctrine that is equally extreme, although at the opposite end of the political spectrum? Decisions have consequences, and Barack Obama has not yet proved that his decision-making skill is equal to his skills as a matinee idol.