EJ Dionne has a superb yet nauseating column about why the Democrats caved on FISA: essentially, the Republicans sprang the issue on them at the last minute, and the Dems worried that if a terrorist attack occurred in August while Congress was out of session, they would get blamed. Matt Stoller glosses this by saying that the Blue Dogs may have threatened to revolt against Pelosi’s leadership, and suggests that there may be a working Republican majority.
Essentially, what happened with FISA is what has happened with so many issues: the Republicans are able to come up with what some see as viable rhetoric on the issue, and the Dems can’t figure out a way to explain what is really happening.
Without getting into the merits of Stoller’s argument, then, it appears that we can now encapsulate the most stark difference between the parties:
The Democrats worry that the public won’t get it; The Republicans worry that the public will get it.
And that pretty much explains it.