Friday, May 12, 2006

How the "popular" NSA scandal really hurts the President.

According to many of the polls recently the NSA scandal is an issue that most Americans are split or actually agree with George Bush on. The Washington Post has a poll that seems to show strong support for the program, with 65% support for the President on this issue.

This may seem to be a bit of a boost for the President, but let us consider the issue for a moment.

Who do you suppose are the ones most vehement in opposition to this program? Libertarians, and died in the wool conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Joe Scarborough. Do not get me wrong. I don't claim that this means that the Howard Deans and Arriana Huffingtons of the world are on board with the President on this one. (Just for the record I strongly oppose the program. This President hardly needs to be given yet more unchecked power.) However I believe that a very substantial percentage of the core opponents to this massive spy program are small government, don't register my gun, keep your law out of my back yard, paleoconservative types.

The President wants to be known as a principled decision maker who does not cave under opposition. The fact of the matter is that most of the bed rock conservatives a lot of polls show he is losing, are in reality what he wants us to perceive him as. Strongly principled, unwavering, deeply set in their beliefs and not liable to be swayed. Now the President they voted for is setting up the largest data base in the history of the world to keep track of who they call?

Most die hard real conservatives understand the danger of letting a freedom go because in so doing they are not affected. Search my car? A lot of people don't mind because there isn't anything illegal in there. These paleo types however do mind because they have a right to mind. Track who I call? A lot of us think I'm not calling Osama so go ahead and do it. I have a feeling however that a lot of the base of President Bush will mind, precisely because it is the NSA who is doing it and that just rubs them the wrong way.

So the President may be perceived by a majority of the people to be doing ok with this program. It is the demographics of the people who do not like this who ought to really concern his supporters. If 3/4 of the people who reluctantly support this program can not stand the President because of all the other stuff he does, where as 3/4 of the people who disagree with the program are his core base... I see a big problem for the President.

Now I've seen plenty of analysis that calls the validity of the polls showing support for the program into question. I tend to agree that the types of questions and what not are influencing the outcomes on these polls. Some polling company calls up and asks, "If the next terrorist 9/11 style attack could be prevented by tapping American phonelines, would you support that program", of course the overall result will affirm the Presidents position. But the overall point of this post remains. The President ought to consider who it is answering they do not support the program before taking comfort in the fact that the program is popular.

The spying program is just another example of how Bush can lie and violate teh constitution and get away with it. Just because he's a republican doesn't make it okay. True, some people are buying his excuse: that he's listening in to phone calls from al-Qaeda. But come on, how plausible is that really? It's just another scare tactic employed by the Bush administration in order to scare the American people so much, that they stick with Bush and his approval rating might rise (lets hope not). Still, even if he is trying to spy on al-Qaeda, would they be stupid enough to not realize they were being over heard? now maybe there are some terrorists that aren't paranoid and would plan an attack on a tapped phone, but to me this sounds ridiculous. Therefore I say give us back our rights, follow the constitution and impeach Bush now!
I don't like it but, this isn't really as bad as the FISA thing. Here the record of who calls whom is recorded but, the content is not.

I see a lot of potential for abuse here and feel it isn't legal. That said... it is not as bad and that is reflected by some of the people I know that were disturbed by FISA but, not as concerned about this. Still, your points are valid. This will serve to remind us that Bush is as willing as ever to "Stay The Course" when it comes to violating the Constitution.
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