Friday, June 20, 2008

Three legged-race

I'm beginning to think we're giving Obama too much credit here. The assumption everyone (myself included) has been operating on is that Obama, in his heart of hearts, means well, he really does want to oppose telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping, but those darn cowardly Dems won't let him. Obviously, the first problem here is that Obama is his own man -- yes, he has to take into account the wishes of others, but leaders are also responsible to lead: he ran as someone who was going to "change the way Washington works" (just like George Bush did in 2000, by some strange coincidence), and yet he has shown absolutely no indication of how he will do this, or even what, exactly, he means by it. It's just a slogan, and given his behavior thus far, a particularly empty one. What if the truth behind the slogan is that Obama doesn't care about the rule of law, privacy rights, or even worse, what if he actually supports Bush's policies?

Saying one thing and doing another has become a pattern for Obama. He made bad noise about free trade, then sent back channel messages to other governments saying he doesn't mean it. There was another, similar instance of that regarding foreign policy. Flip-flopping on telco immunity is the worst example, but it's one in a string: Obama has a demonstrated record of, well, there's no other word for it: lying. About policy matters. Crucial policy matters. Crucial policy matters that are important to the liberal base.

I am reminded that in Israel, the settlements have expanded at a faster rate under the "dovish" Labour Party than under Israel's "hawkish" right wing parties. Labour says all the right things, then it gets into office and behaves like a hawk's hawk, with the excuse that it "has to be tough to establish credibility", "can't be labeled soft on terror" and so on -- phrases that are already familiar to our ears. And of course, as a result, the problems both parties claim they are going to solve never do get solved, and instead, Israel has been stumbling towards annexation of the West Bank for 40 years, now on the left leg, now on the right, but always moving in the same rough direction. The Republicans and Democrats are beginning to develop a similar dynamic: lurching towards the finish line of a paranoid police state, in a three legged race. Obama is showing he's willing to tie his leg to Bush's, just as long as he gets to run.