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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/9/08

Positional Vertigo

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Message Jayne Stahl


In a move today bound to make anyone think Congress has a touch of positional vertigo, the Senate voted, by a 3 to 1 margin, to give the president a belated birthday gift, and pass his FISA reform bill with the retroactive immunity clause in tact. Notably, Sen. McCain was missing in action because he is "campaigning."

A provision by Senators Dodd, Feingold, and Leahy which would nullify telecom immunity was struck down by a 2 to 1 margin.

While more Democrats voted against the bill than for it, 27 to 21, the fact that Sen. Obama was among those willing to go along with retroactive immunity disappoints even the most obdurate among us.

Those cynics among us might suggest Obama isn't the only one suffering from positional vertigo; the Democratic party is, too. Yes, and those among us who feel betrayed by an Obama movement interruptus have every right to be outraged, and incensed, at the massaging, and tweaking, of the candidate to make him cable-ready on election day.  Indeed, some who say that his malleability will be his demise may be right.  But, all things must be taken in context.

Trying to appear strong on "homeland security" is clearly one strategy to defeat the McCain national security campaign on steroids.    That said, watch for the fault line in any party platform that works in the interest of expediency, not authenticity, as well as for memorabl examples of past defeat arising from candidate Dukakis trying to look authentic mounting a tank, and candidate Kerry shining Vietnam war medals.

To think of Barack Obama massaging the Patriot Act to win the hearts of faux moderate Republicans, and midwest ranchers, is, frankly, unsettling.   Keep in mind, though, that presidential candidates, Democrat or Republican, are answerable to their party's platform, as well as to their party's bosses.   And, in the end, all politicians are answerable to the voters.

Yes, after today, we know that Sen. Obama is telling the truth when he says he is not perfect, and history will know it, too.  

 And, these days, it's hard to be an Obama supporter without being a flip-flopper.    Having said that, we will take candidate Obama up on his invitation to hold him accountable after we elect him president, and hold him accountable we will, knowing that, in the end, there's more at stake here than who hangs his hat in the Oval Office like, for instance, the prospect of making lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court,  Roe v. Wade, and then, of course, there's the alternative -- the prospect of having a wannabe general posing as president of the United States.

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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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