What Goldberg really doesn’t get, though, is that the Obamacons are not simply voting for a liberal because they don’t like the “conservative” — in supporting Obama, they seem themselves as supporting the more conservative candidate, who may be liberal on economic matters and a whole host of other issues besides, but who will at least conserve our liberties and keep the peace rather than starting unprovoked wars.
This is where I think my opposition to Obamacons comes from. To the extent that anyone on the right genuinely believes that Obama “will at least conserve our liberties and keep the peace rather than starting unprovoked wars,” they are simply wrong. Obama’s position on the PATRIOT Act and the 2006 Lebanon war are two obvious examples of why they are wrong, and we could argue about how many more examples there are, but as I’ve said before it really requires a tremendous act of imagination for a conservative to expect anything better (i.e., more conservative) from Obama (except maybe on Iraq). The strongest argument the Obamacons have is that their candidate is not McCain. This is the argument they need to keep repeating, rather than straining credulity with frankly wishful thinking that Obama will “conserve our liberties and keep the peace.” It’s true that Goldberg misses this aspect of the Obamacon argument, but then I’m not sure it’s an aspect Obamacons should really want other people to notice.
Update: Right on cue, Obama signs off on the new FISA bill to the disappointment of at least some of his supporters. Meanwhile, the rather weak defense of the Democrats as a whole isn’t terribly impressive either, since it was also true of the Iraq war authorisation that more Democrats in the House voted no than voted yes. However, pretty much the entire leadership was lined up on the wrong side of the issue, as Yglesias never fails to mention now, but I’m pretty sure if you used the “more Democrats opposed it than supported it, and don’t pay attention to what the leadership did” argument about Iraq these days Yglesias would laugh in your face. On one of the more controversial pieces of legislation related to antiterrorism, the Democrats and their presidential nominee opted for the Kerry-Daschle path of least resistance. Fortunately, I hear that Obama may eventually challenge the status quo on something. We just have yet to see any meaningful examples of this.
Second Update: Regarding the FISA bill, I see via Greenwald that New Mexico’s Tom Udall was one of the nays–good for him. Once he is in the Senate, there will be another Democratic member in that chamber to resist executive power grabs (assuming, of course, that he remains willing to resist power grabs by a Democratic administration in the event that we have one).
P.S. Jim asked in the post linked earlier how civil libertarian Obamacons would react to their champion’s rather less-than-heroic stand on a civil liberties issue–one of those issues that is supposed to mark Obama as the “more conservative” or preferable alternative–and we have one answer. Of course, telecom immunity is not the only questionable thing in the bill. That just happens to be the added bonus for the administration. As usual when it comes to these matters, Russ Feingold makes sense:
And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.
Meanwhile, Obama’s aversion to confronting power appears yet again.