The Questionable Authority

My kingdom for a leader.

Several days ago, Senator (and longshot Presidential candidate) Christopher Dodd (D-CT) made some news by promising to do whatever he could to block any legislation that would retroactively grant immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with President Bush’s warrentless wiretapping program. He started off by placing a hold on the bill – a procedural move that would normally block the legislation from being voted on. After hearing that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to move the bill to the floor despite the hold, Dodd is now promising to go to the floor of the Senate and filibuster the bill if necessary.

That was late last week. Until yesterday, the only thing heard on this issue from the Clinton and Obama campaigns was the chirp of crickets. Yesterday, five days after Dodd’s announcement (a period of time that bears an uncanny resemblance to the time needed to conduct focus groups or polls on the issue), the two camps both released statements outlining their candidate’s position on the bill and the threatened filibuster.

From the Obama campaign:

“Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill, especially the provision on giving retroactive immunity to the telephone companies. He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it.”

From Clinton, in response to a question at a press availability:

“I am troubled by the concerns that have been raised by the recent legislation reported out of the Intelligence Committee. I haven’t seen it so I can’t express an opinion about it. But I don’t trust the Bush Administration with our civil rights and liberties. So I’m going to study it very hard. As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently.”

Personally, I liked the chirping crickets better. They’ve got more character than either statement – or, for that matter, than both combined. I don’t think they could have come up with anything more milquetoasty if they tried – and they probably did. Their “support” for the filibuster is so lukewarm it’s at room temperature.

The Senator “has serious concerns?” If “comes to the Senate floor in its current form” he “would support a filibuster”?? What does that mean? Does his “support” for a filibuster disappear if a single comma gets moved, or will it take two or three punctuation changes to cause the collapse? And what does “support” mean here? Does it mean that he’ll sit and watch, or will he get up and read the phonebook, too?

And Hillary is actually worse on this than Obama was. He was merely spineless. She justified her spinelessness by claiming ignorance. “I haven’t seen it”?? Give me a break. The things not hard to find, and it’s not like you didn’t know that question was gonna be coming. “I haven’t seen it.” For crying out loud, Senator, you’re still a Senator. I know that whole running for President thing puts a big crimp in your social life, but can’t we count on you to at least do your damn job while you’re running?

Right now, it’s enough to make me want to throw my arms up in the air and swear not to have anything to do with either of them again. The only thing stopping me is the knowledge that another four years of Republicans in the White House would be worse.

Comments

  1. #1 JeffL
    October 24, 2007

    Obama has clarified his position:
    http://tpmelectioncentral.com/2007/10/obama_camp_says_it_hell_support_filibuster_of_any_bill_containing_telecom_immunity.php

    “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

  2. #2 chezjake
    October 24, 2007

    If “comes to the Senate floor in its current form” he “would support a filibuster”?? What does that mean?

    It means that Obama is aware that the Senaye Judiciary Committee is also entitled to mark up the bill before it comes up for a floor vote, and that both leaders of the committee (Leahy and Spector) have come out in opposition to immunity for the telecoms.

  3. #3 John Marley
    October 28, 2007

    Wait, I’m confused.

    I thought filibustering was a tactic of the minority party.

    Does Bush still have enough support in the Senate that this bill is a real threat?

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