Monday, June 30, 2008

Memo To Obama: Enough of the Battered Wife Syndrome

I have supported Obama's candidacy since John Edwards departed the race. I still believe it was the right thing to do given the flawed alternative Hillary Clinton represented. To nominate Clinton would have been tantamount to rewarding poor judgment (Iraq) and bad behavior (race baiting). So I did some phone banking, donated to Obama's campaign and will continue to support his candidacy against John McCain. To elect McCain would be a calamity.

However, Obama's campaign has in recent days demonstrated the same chronic pathology of the Democratic Party itself: battered wife syndrome. Yes, I know the rationale is that Obama had to move to the center for the general election campaign. I understand that is inevitable and to some degree necessary. And I am willing to cut Obama some slack. Power without principle is barren and principle without power is futile and I appreciate the delicate balance. I also appreciate that as the first black nominee of a major political party Obama is walking a tightrope.

However, Obama's retreat on FISA resembles Bill Clinton's despicable calculation about welfare reform in 1996: removing an issue from the table and playing not to lose regardless of the human consequences. I don't want the standard bearer of my party to play not to lose when it comes to my civil liberties.

It's also bad politics. Jon Tester prevailed in his 2006 Montana senate campaign against Conrad Burns while opposing the Partiot Act! And Montana isn't exactly known for their latte drinking limousine liberals. They're plenty of civil libertarian minded people in America who would applaud Obama if he stood up for principle and opposed this corporate fascist legislation. FISA is corporate welfare and get out of jail free cards for the telecommunication companies. But the Democrats are so damn scared of the big bad elephant that their standard bearer ducks and covers when it's time to stand up and be counted! Or is Obama's stance appeasement for Democrats such as Jay Rockefeller, their ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a shameless whore for telecommunications money? Either way it's inexcusable.

Today, Obama again demonstrated battered wife syndrome and fearfully distanced himself from Wesley Clark. Clark merely had the temerity to suggest that McCain's history as a POW, while meriting our respect doesn't qualify him to be commander and chief. Clark didn't question McCain's patriotism or his service to his country like Republicans did to war veteran John Kerry in 2004. Wesley Clark is arguably the most effective surrogate the Democratic party has on national security issues and Obama allowed the McCain campaign to take him out!

It seems when Democrats are in a tight race their battered wife syndrome surfaces because they don't want to lose on the margins. And when the political winds are at their back Democrats become cautious because they don't want to blow a lead. We've seen this from Democratic nominees before. The stakes for America and the world are too high for Dukakis, Gore and Kerry redux. And what if you do win as expected Senator? As president, will you duck and cover as soon as the conservatives have a bug up their butts or disavow fellow Democrats like Wesley Clark who dare to challenge Republicans about their weak national security credentials? You're better than that. Act like it.


upinVermont said...

Excellent Post. You essentially paraphrase Drew Westen's book, "Political Brain". If you haven't read it yet, you should. A link to a review is below.

I was considering giving money to Obama's campaign. But with this kind of behavior? Forget it.

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

Battered wife syndrome seems to be an air-borne illness these days.

Great post.

Ron Southern said...

All news in these modern times make me want to not hear any more. It is sad, sick battling without any principles involved. Politics prevents it. Your observations are sharp, even though they leave me still feeling disloyal to the politics of either the Parties or the system.