Self-Swiftboating: Lessig on FISA/Telcom Immunity Capitulation

July 10, 2008

Worth reading:

The best evidence that they don’t get this is Telco Immunity. Obama said he would filibuster a FISA bill with Telco Immunity in it. He has now signaled he won’t. When you talk to people close to the campaign about this, they say stuff like: “Come on, who really cares about that issue? Does anyone think the left is going to vote for McCain rather than Obama? This was a hard question. We tried to get it right. And anyway, the FISA compromise in the bill was a good one.”

But the point is that the point is not the substance of the issue. I’d argue until the cows come home that in a world where soldiers go to prison for breaking the law, the government shouldn’t be giving immunity to (generous campaign contributing) companies who break the law. But a mistake about substance is not why this flip is a mistake. I agree that a tiny proportion of the world thinks defeating Telco Immunity is important. The vast majority don’t even understand the issue. But what this perspective misses is just how easy it will be to use this (clear) flip in policy positions to support the argument “Obama is no different.” Here, and in other places, the campaign hands the other side kryptonite.

Read whole post.


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