Except, not so fast. CNN has a contemporaneous poll showing Bush down at 41%, still an increase, but clearly not the miracle comeback the narrative seemed to demand. More like the proverbial "dead cat bounce".
Wow. Only half think that we can win in Iraq (however that is being defined today), and only 40% think we're winning. Keep in mind that these polls were meant to be current with the most recent Iraqi election, which has already been rife with accusations of vote tampering and intimidation. (Plus the results, as expected, are accruing to the Iranian-backed fundamentalist loons.) Perhaps international monitoring would have helped -- except they had to impose strict martial law just to carry this thing off in the first place. Sound like we're winning?
Anyway, just another case where certain portions of major media choose to abdicate their roles and irresponsibly wax rhapsodic about pendulum swings and event bounces. Chances are that the ongoing revelations of Bush's illegal little eavesdropping program (and the lying about it, which is what we're all supposed to get inflamed over, remember) are going to shake those numbers back on down. Then you have Bush's butt-boy Tom DeLay going on trial soon, and Rove's impending indictment, and the growing Abramoff scandal, and the eventual resurgence in gasoline prices, and you can see some shit about to hit the fan.
But back to the domestic spying program, and the hollow pronunciamentos who want to meet these animals on everyfuckingthing, no matter how debased or flatly unconstitutional. The first example is Marshall Wittman, aka the Bull Moose, a blogger whom I occasionally enjoy for his centrist views and quirky writing. The Moose has been a bit too conciliatory as of late, with those who do not desire conciliation, but rather crave annihiliation. The Moose seems to think that if the Democrats just play nice with Republicans, that all will be well. How's that been working for them so far?
Now he hits rock bottom with a craven defense of Bush's bullshit.
For one, Bush has already been caught lying about all this several times, in a matter of just a few short days. First the denial of the program on Friday, then the defiant 180º admission the next day. Then the assertion that Congress had been briefed on all this, when in fact only a few key senators had -- and even then, were not allowed to discuss it with anyone else, which boils down to a simple edict: This is what we're doing. Don't tell anyone.
Now it turns out that Bush, in a speech last April, insisted that all surveillance was being done through the FISA court system, that it was all warranted. The current spin on that is that Bush was specifically referring to surveillances under the Patriot Act.
Anyone else wistful for the simple days, when we just had to parse "is" and "alone"?
The second problem with the Moose's paragraph above is his blanket assertion that this was only done on "potential security threats". Well, already it turns out that groups like PETA, Catholic anti-war protest groups, and collegiate gay legal rights groups were all targeted by this program.
Now, obviously the Moose did not know this when he put hoof to keyboard and intoned solemnly. But a brief recap of the history of this administration and its players shows a clear pattern of bad faith, compounded by sheer incompetence. What the fuck made him seriously think these guys wouldn't abuse whatever privilege they had unilaterally decreed for themselves? Give me a fucking break here.
Yes, rather than raise that pesky matter of the Constitution, the opposition party should just applaud Dear Leader for his beneficent protection, regardless of how many people get disappeared to Gitmo, spied on, or harassed for checking out Mao's Little Red Book. Really, why not just join the Republican Party and have done with it. Maybe a two-party state really is only one party better than a one-party state.
The Moose forgets the most axiomatic Trumanism of all -- that when faced with the choice of a fake Republican and a real one, usually people will vote for the real one.
Apparently they're supposed to trust the ones who have persistently lied about everything, spent and tax-cut the country into record deficits, and subverted the law of the land every chance they've gotten -- and refused to take accountability for any of it. Right now, Bush is in the "abusive spouse" mode of response to it all. The next press conference will no doubt feature him in a wife-beater shirt, telling us, his bitch, that he wouldn't hit us if we weren't so mouthy. It's really our fault.
Saddest of all, Wittman might actually be right about his estimates of the political culture out there. Bush and his gang have not been brought to bear for any of this. Growing murmurs of discontent are not making any sort real dent in all this. And the Democrats, even with their pale attempts at "branding", can't even get that right.
Matt Stoller has some choice words for Barack Obama:
Exactly. The Democrats need to revive that sort of debate because for one, it's true, but more importantly, they need to set their sights higher and think about the big picture. They seem to think that if they let the scandals implode the administration, they can take '06 and even '08 on the strength of that. They forget they they had the White House, with a boom economy and a popular president, and the Republican slime machine still got him impeached at twenty points higher approval than Bush has now. Having the leadership roles is not all there is to wielding the reins of power, and while fighting fire with fire is extremely unpleasant, it is also unfortunately crucial to their survival as a viable opposition. This measured disagreement by degrees just gives the Bushies time to get their next swagger strategy ready for rollout, and make the Democrats look like capitulating pussies all over again.
It doesn't have to be that way. Even honest-to-god sigint agents (signal intel -- wiretapping and monitoring) are pissed about the notion of their secret tech being turned on fellow citizens:
Doesn't get much simpler than that, does it? The main thing is to responsibly point out that this wasn't just a matter of listening in on a few dozen Saudi immigrants out in the woods starting a supposed paintball camp. This is monitoring and infiltrating domestic groups who had no terror agenda, but who had actively opposed administration policy. It's against federal law in and of itself, and Bush has compounded the situation by repeatedly lying and misrepresenting the situation. It is not treason to expect him to obey existing laws, and it is a path to ruin to just allow Bush to grant himself superpowers when he sees fit.
Two simple questions for intellectually honest conservatives:
- By Bush's own statements, the war on terror is ongoing, and presumably will outlast this administration. How would you feel about President Hillary Clinton having these awesome superpowers Bush has granted himself?
- Just where do you plan on drawing the line, as far as civil liberties you feel you can abrogate to executive fiat, and do you seriously think that your line will be exactly where their line will end up, if they even have one?