What Clinton and Obama Can Do Now

Now that we know both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be in the Senate to vote against cloture on the Intelligence Committee bill, you might be wondering what else they can do, besides show up to cast the right vote. Ari Melber of The Nation has an answer handy:

1. Use their influence and political capital to recruit two more votes for the Leahy bill. That’s all Leahy, Feingold and Dodd need to keep their fight alive under the current rules. Obama and Clinton were endorsed by a total of seven senators who voted the wrong way last week. As DFA explains, “if these presidential hopefuls bring along the support of these senators, they can sustain a planned filibuster [and] defeat any cloture vote.”

2. Use their influence and political capital to press Reid to run the floor for the Leahy bill, instead of the Bush-Rockefeller bill. This is is tough for several reasons, but there’s an opening now that Bush has essentially slapped Reid around and drawn some rhetorical pushback.

3. Rally the Democratic Congress to confront Bush’s veto threat. Send the one-month bill to his desk and let this unpopular president remind the entire country of his irresponsible, cynical approach to governing. Maybe his approval ratings will drop into the teens like his Vice President. (I personally favor this third option the least, since it involves gamesmanship instead of a long-term policy, which Leahy’s bill offers.)

Howie Klein points out who each presidential candidate should be responsible for:

Hillary could prove she’s a leader by bringing in Evan Bayh, Daniel Inouye, Bill Nelson, Barbara Mikulski and Mark Pryor, and Obama could do likewise with Tim Johnson, Claire McCaskill and Ben Nelson.

We will see what, if anything, Clinton and Obama do to turn their two “no” votes into more votes in the Senate. Without question, though, their presence will make victory more likely and show the rest of the caucus that this remains an issue deserving of the highest levels of attention in the national debate. The more we can get this fight to be treated with the gravity that it possesses, the more likely it is that senators will continue to be drawn to the side of the rule law and will be present to fight with us to defend the Constitution.

What is so remarkable about this turn of events is how we can directly tie the actions taken by the top two Democratic presidential candidates to the passionate, consistent advocacy by people online and offline around the country. From emails to faxes to photos and advertisements, Senators Clinton and Obama have been subjected to a monumental amount of pressure. This advocacy helped to show them that there was support for them to do the right thing. Criticism may well be directed at them from the Republican Party or conservative pundits for this vote, but they should rest assured that there are countless Americans who will look at their actions and say, “They’re doing the right thing.”

We can stop a bad bill today and get past Republican obstructionism. Keep up the pressure through the CREDO email action page and make sure the Senate hears from the American people today!

Cross posted at the CREDO Blog.

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