Although it's probably not hard to guess where I stand on the FISA issue, the actual policy issues of that debate are irrelevant to what I realized after the House passed the FISA bill this afternoon. Let's see what is being said about the Democrats' thinking:The New York Times
The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute.
“I think the White House got a better deal than even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Bond, Republican of Missouri, who led the negotiations.
The Washington Post
...the negotiations underscored the political calculation made by many Democrats who were fearful that Republicans would cast them as soft on terrorism during an election year.
"Watching the House fall to scare tactics and political maneuvering is especially infuriating given the way it stood up to pressure from the president on this same issue just months ago," Fredrickson said. "In March we thought the House leadership had finally grown a backbone by rejecting the Senate’s FISA bill. Now we know they will not stand up for the Constitution."
A Kerry Senate Staffer, 9/06, to a group of constituents including myself:
Everyone is caving on the MCA because everyone is afraid of becoming Max Cleland.
My (Democratic, true-blue) Congressman's Veteran Staffer (rough quote), today
You can expect it to be a recurring issue up to the election that Democrats will be trying to avoid being painted as "soft"
Set aside the FISA policy and legislation. I want to get at the clear contextual picture emerging here:Democrats will roll over for the Republicans on anything related to national security, so they can avoid having a fight about it before November.
Any group in the White House who is eager to attack Iran, I feel confident, took exactly this message away from today's FISA vote.
I have no reason to think that the Democratic leadership will resist the "we must attack Iran" campaign that that group is now planning.