Rick Perlstein's obit for "anti-American" Philip Agee.
Deep Throat passed away in December.
Mark Felt, a.k.a. Deep Throat, in
his old-timey FBI action pose.
I hope Obama is pressured into doing something about the warrantless wiretapping compromise the Democrats enacted during the election. (Reformers should point to the Nixon White House.) Glenn Greenwald has been very good on this. In his Salon column, however, he addresses Obama supporters (which I consider myself):
But there is one aspect of the worldview of many Obama supporters that I find genuinely difficult to understand. These supporters insist that by symbolically including and sometimes compromising with even those on the Right with whom he vigorously disagrees, Obama will be able to chip away at the partisan hostilities and resentments, and erode the cultural divisions, that have inflamed and paralyzed our politics. People on the Right may disagree with him, claim these supporters, but they won't be wallowing in rage, suspicions, and hatred towards him. Instead, they'll feel respected and accommodated. They therefore won't be distracted by petty sideshow controversies. As a result, he'll encounter less reflexive resistance to implementing the key parts of his progressive agenda. A New Politics will emerge: one of respectful and civil disagreements, but not consumed by crippling partisan and cultural hatreds.Greenwald nicely summarizes what Obama campaigned on, but Morris and Clinton didn't have that strategy in mind. I agree that the wiretapping/FISA compromise during the election was a Morris maneuver, but Clinton and Morris passed rightwing/centrist legislation in order to stay in office. I don't believe Obama will be that transpartisan.* What's "new" is attempting to get beyond the 60s cultural wars without compromising one's principles. In part this mean successfully reframing the debate conservatives want to endlessly engage in. Clinton and Morris engaged in the debate on conservatives' terms and passed conservative legislation without getting much in return.
The one question I always return to when I hear this -- and we've been hearing it a lot to explain the Warren selection -- is this: in what conceivable sense is this approach "new"? Even for those who are convinced this will work, isn't this exactly the same thing Democrats have been doing for the last two decades: namely, accommodating and compromising with the Right in the name of bipartisan harmony and a desire to avoid partisan and cultural conflicts? This harmonious approach may be many things, but the one thing it seems not to be is "new."
In fact, wasn't this transpartisan mentality exactly the strategic premise that drove the Bill Clinton presidency, exactly what Dick Morris' triangulation tactics were designed to achieve? Clinton spent the entire decade extending cultural fig leafs to the Right, from V-chips to school uniforms. Here's how The New York Times explained the 1996 unveiling of his "school uniform" policy:By supporting measures like the school-uniform option, Mr. Clinton is trying to use the President's bully pulpit in this election year to articulate a moderate Democratic agenda that steps into the area of social issues that have long been the province of Republicans.
As I noted earlier, Judis and Krugman point out that the political landscape today is much different - thanks in part to Greenwald and people like him. That's also what is "new" - which Greenwald keeps asking - as is Obama's politcal talent.
Regarding Obama's compromises and political interaction with the center and right, Mandela's quote vis-a-vis the ANC's South African Communist allies I mentioned earlier seems appropriate:
With this victory  came new strains in the ANC-SACP alliance. While a number of Communists, notably Joe Slovo, occupied prominent positions on the ANC benches in parliament and in government, the ANC's programme did not threaten the existence of capitalism in South Africa and was heavily reliant on foreign investment and tourism. In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela famously remarked:Greenwald is afraid that the Left will be "used" as the Communists were, but there's a good chance it will be not the Left but some of those on the Right and in the Center who will be treated this way. This is what Obama has campaigned on. And like the South African Communists, these allies** will get some of what they want and a laudatory footnote in the history books."There will always be those who say that the Communists were using us. But who is to say that we were not using them?"
* Like most, I don't like the terms postpartisan and transpartisan because they lead to this sort of confusion.
** Already Robert Gates and Lawrence Summers have expressed opinions more in line with Obama's than with their centrist pasts. Of course what Greenwald and Obama's supporters are waiting on is concrete actions.