NBC: Obama's First Test With The Left

12/19/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's decisions during his first weeks as president-elect already represent his first test with the left wing of the Democratic party. The Obama camp's agreement to allow renegade Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman to keep his post, the flirtation with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and the upcoming decisions he will have to make regarding the Bush administration's controversial wiretapping and domestic spying programs have already angered certain elements of the party.

Obama's first test with the left: The news that Obama is the one mainly responsible for the wrist slap that Lieberman is expected to receive -- as well as the continued speculation that the president-elect is inching closer towards selecting Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state -- is really going to test Obama's base. Many of the true believers aren't going to be happy campers. Then again, with some pundits suggesting that Obama's initial moves (picking Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, courting the Clintons) don't really signal the change he promised to bring to Washington, isn't it precisely change that Lieberman is about to go unpunished? After all, one of Obama's messages was to put the bitter partisanship of the last 16 years behind us. Does anyone think that a Clinton or a Bush Administration would be as forgiving?

And the New York Times recently reported:

President-elect Barack Obama will face a series of early decisions on domestic spying that will test his administration's views on presidential power and civil liberties.

The Justice Department will be asked to respond to motions in legal challenges to the National Security Agency's wiretapping program, and must decide whether to continue the tactics used by the Bush administration -- which has used broad claims of national security and "state secrets" to try to derail the challenges -- or instead agree to disclose publicly more information about how the program was run.

When he takes office, Mr. Obama will inherit greater power in domestic spying power than any other new president in more than 30 years, but he may find himself in an awkward position as he weighs how to wield it. As a presidential candidate, he condemned the N.S.A. operation as illegal, and threatened to filibuster a bill that would grant the government expanded surveillance powers and provide immunity to phone companies that helped in the Bush administration's program of wiretapping without warrants. But Mr. Obama switched positions and ultimately supported the measure in the Senate, angering liberal supporters who accused him of bowing to pressure from the right.

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