Yesterday, Barack Obama said he would support Bush’s spying bill, which, as he knew it would, angered Democrats on the left and will lead to the McCain campaign and the Republicans and other Obama critics to accuse him of “doing and saying anything to become president.”
I’ve been watching politics long enough, and have seen enough of it up close to know that Obama had no choice but to support this bill if he wanted to become the next president of the United States. The political reality is that if Obama voted no on this bill, John McCain would have attempted to paint Obama as soft on terrorism and that charge would have resonated with a majority of American swing voters.
This was in The American Interest magazine a couple of months ago:
The reason is that terrorism and the attendant “war” thereon have become fully embedded in the public consciousness, with the effect that politicians and bureaucrats have become as wary of appearing soft on terrorism as they are about appearing soft on drugs, or as they once were about appearing soft on Communism.
This is what makes the outrage over Obama’s vote, his supposed “flip-flop,” both predictable and laughable. It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
It’s important to remember that Obama’s goal isn’t to appease the left, but it’s to become president of the United States. That’s why he will support this bill. Yes, it’s Machiavellian, but that’s been American politics almost since the beginning.
But don’t expect Obama to stop angering people on the left with his stances toward terrorism and civil liberties once he becomes president. That’s another political reality.