Not a new generation age-wise, but a new generation of leaders in Congress who weren't there at all, or at least weren't in leadership positions, on 9/11 and in the years immediately thereafter. Those folks, fundamentally decent and hardworking though some of them are, are simply too compromised to be able to lead us out of the wilderness into which Bush and Cheney have led us. That is the plain and simple truth.
It is clear to me now that what happened on the FISA bill was exactly what Jonathan Turley described on Countdown on Thursday.
OLBERMANN: And, also hidden in here behind this headline - if you immunize the telecoms, are you not also immunizing the president, the Bush administration and, to some degree, the Congress that went along with all of these crimes in the last seven years?
TURLEY: Well, there's no question in my mind that there is an obvious level of collusion here. We now know that Democratic leadership knew about the illegal surveillance program almost from its inception. Even when they were campaigning about fighting for civil liberties, they were aware of an unlawful surveillance program as well as a torture program. And ever since that came out, the Democrats have been silently trying to kill any effort to hold anyone accountable because that list could very well include some of their own members.
And, I'm afraid this is Washington politics at the worst. And, so, I think that what you're seeing with this bill is not just caving in to a very powerful lobby, but also caving in to sort of the worst motivations on Capitol Hill since 9/11. You know, the administration was very adept at bringing in Democrats at a time when they knew they couldn't refuse, to make them buy in to this program, and now that investment is bearing fruit.
OLBERMANN: So, it's self-protection is the answer to the question of why Congress didn't let FISA, this bill, at least, go sunset and do this in the next administration. The answer is really self-protection?
TURLEY: I'm afraid it is.
I think that's exactly right. But Barack Obama was not in the Congress until January, 2005. He represents the kind of leadership we need. I do believe he opposes the FISA Bill and understands precisely why it is wrong and unconstitutional. I also believe he is sincere in wanting to craft a new kind of response on national security that doesn't cower before the Bush/Cheney regime, that espouses and sticks to a few basic principles, including the limits of military force and the false trade of civil liberties for safety, and that is nuanced and smart. He wasn't (and still isn't) one of the leadership group who was briefed on so much of the Bush/Cheney constitution-shredding measures that they were sucked in up to their gills, to the point that they were never able to really confront Bush/Cheney. (Kind of explains taking impeachment off the table, doesn't it?)
But Obama wants to get elected, and he knows he will need Congress to govern effectively. He doesn't want to meet the fate of Bill Clinton, who was stymied in several initiatives in his first two years by congressional egos. So Obama knows he will need their help. He must have made the calculation, when they explained their problem to him, that the best he could do was to come out against at least parts of the bill, but he would have to give them cover and couldn't give the ruse away. That's why they waited for the compromise until we had a nominee, why he waited to make a statement until it was basically meaningless, and why he really won't do anything to stop immunity, nor will anyone else.
He is far and away the best we have, precisely because he has been part of that world, and only a minor part at that, for only four years. But he is going to need a leadership team in the Congress, if not next year then in 2011, who is not tainted by their collusion with the worst of Bush/Cheney regime. Slowly but surely the Congressional leadership must be purged and replaced by new leadership who was not suckered into selling our constitutional rights for the chance to feel a little bit powerful, to stay in office, out of fear at being tarred as a traitor.
In the election of 1868, the generation that had brought about the Civil War was summarily thrown from office and replaced by men twenty and thirty years their juniors in what Strauss and Howe call "the largest generational landslide in American history." This time age need not be the determining factor, but whether a person colluded with Bush/Cheney. We can start by electing better Democrats and promoting new leaders, and by exposing what the current leadership appears to have done.