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The politics of the national security issue
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, December 29, 2005

According to some Democrats, not good for their side:
Some centrist Democrats say attacks by their party leaders on the Bush administration's eavesdropping on suspected terrorist conversations will further weaken the party's credibility on national security.

That concern arises from recent moves by liberal Democrats to block the extension of parts of the USA Patriot Act in the Senate and denunciations of President Bush amid concerns that these initiatives could violate the civil liberties of innocent Americans.
Politics has much to do with perception, and right or wrong, centerist Democrats see no political good coming from the party's stand on the wiretaps and Patriot Act:
"I think when you suggest that civil liberties are just as much at risk today as the country is from terrorism, you've gone too far if you leave that impression. I don't believe that's true," said Michael O'Hanlon, a national-security analyst at the Brookings Institution who advises Democrats on defense issues.

"I get nervous when I see the Democrats playing this [civil liberties] issue out too far. They had better be careful about the politics of it," said Mr. O'Hanlon, who says the Patriot Act is "good legislation."
Overstatement and overreaction, however, have become the staples of the Democratic leadership recently. Harry Reid loudly crowing about killing the Patriot Act wasn't his or the Democratic party's finest hour (or their smartest political hour either). And, as polls show, they may overplay their hand in wiretap case as well:
Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans say they are following the NSA story somewhat or very closely.

Just 26% believe President Bush is the first to authorize a program like the one currently in the news. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is not while 26% are not sure.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans believe the NSA should be allowed to listen in on conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States. That view is shared by 51% of Democrats and 57% of those not affiliated with either major political party.
Again, remember the point of the post is to discuss the political ramifications of the stances the Democrats are taking. Three things to note in this survey. A) a solid majority of people claim to be following the NSA story "somewhat or very closely". B) a majority of all respondents of all political inclinations (including 51% of Democrats) believe the NSA should be allowed to monitor conversations between terror suspects and people living in the US. C) a solid majority of the US population back the NSA program (or said another way, agree that if it isn't legal it ought to be ... more a statement of common sense vs. concerns over technical legality.).
Overstatement and overreaction, however, have become the staples of the Democratic leadership recently.
What that says, to any astute political observer, is the impeachment nonsense, if pushed by the Democrats, could be very damaging politically and will certainly hurt them in '06 (since it will be the House which will have to deal with any impeachment legisation). It also again cedes the "national security" issue to the Republicans.
Recent polls say 56 percent of Americans approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing to protect the country from another terrorist attack.

"In shaping alternative policies -- particularly on national security, terrorism and Iraq -- Democrats have to be extremely careful to avoid reinforcing the negative stereotype that has cost us so much in the last two national elections," the recent DLC memorandum said.

Republicans led the Democrats by 40 percent to 36 percent on questions about which party can keep the country safe, 45 percent to 40 percent on which party can be trusted on national security and 48 percent to 38 percent on "which party can be trusted more to fight terrorism," the DLC said.
Those are the numbers and those are the political realities of the situation. However, in the recent past, the Democrats have shown no ability to avoid the extreme on these issues.
These Democrats say attacks on anti-terrorist intelligence programs will deepen mistrust of their ability to protect the nation's security, a weakness that led in part to the defeat of Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, last year.
And nothing has changed. In fact, if anything, the chorus has become more strident and extreme if anything.

As mentioned previously, there is plenty to debate about both the Patriot Act, and plenty of murky water to wade through as concerns the NSA intercepts, but a responsible approach to both would be the best Democratic strategy given the country's concern about national security. The Democrats, however, seem genetically (in a political sense) unable to avoid the extreme in their opposition to this administration, and my guess is it is going to cost them dearly in '06.
 
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And nothing has changed. In fact, if anything, the chorus has become more strident and extreme if anything.
Correct.

There’s something further this trend suggests that you don’t; That being that whatever ’centerist Democrats’ there are, do not have the numbers to turn the ship away from this disaster course the Democrats as a whole are on.

Personally, I figure there are a great many who, seeing this trend, have already abandoned ship... leaving the most hateful the most strident behind. The one I see bucking this trend is Lieberman, whom the party’s trying to get rid of...(What do you think that little dance about Lieberman replacing Rummy was all about last month?)

Which leads me to my comments of yesterday;

Are there any good Democrats left?
I doubt it. All that seems to be left on the left are the Micheal Crooks of the world.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
a majority of all respondents of all political inclinations (including 51% of Democrats) believe the NSA should be allowed to monitor conversations between terror suspects and people living in the US.
I’m absolutely dumbfounded that the number is as low as it is. Who is suggesting that the NSA should not be allowed to monitor conversations between terror suspects and people living in the US? Nobody, as far as I can tell.

It might have been more interesting -- and relevant -- had Rasmussen asked the question: "Do you think the NSA should be allowed to monitor conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States without a warrant or judicial oversight?"

The first question is terrible, though. Rassmussen ought to be embarrassed to have done it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Bithead, there are BAG-LOADs of "good" Democrats left. Several I know wear our nation’s uniform proudly and serve our nation well. They just don’t happen to like or vote for George Bush. Let’s don’t Manichean here, this isn’t or doesn’t have to be a struggle between the forces of Light and Dark.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Again, remember the point of the post is to discuss the political ramifications of the stances the Democrats are taking.
Wait, you mean the point isn’t about treason?
[/mkbit]
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Bithead, there are BAG-LOADs of "good" Democrats left.
Where?

If they were, in fact, as numerous as you’d have us think, would the party leadership be quite so strident?

I think not.

McQ is quite correct when he says:
The Democrats, however, seem genetically (in a political sense) unable to avoid the extreme in their opposition to this administration, and my guess is it is going to cost them dearly in ’06.
The fact of the matter is that their extremism has not as a matter of history been limited to Bush. Rather, it goes back to Reagan.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I do not find anywhere where the good people of this site say that there shouldn’t be a principled debate about, or proper checks and balances on the Patriot Act.

Even as fiscal conservative, social libertarian, nationalist Republican, I think that there ought to be proper checks and balances on all government activities.

Even the Presidents war making abilities. I buy the argument that for the purposes of gathering foreign intelligence the President has pretty broad powers. But, if they want to make a case against a US citizen, they darn well better have all their ducks in a row (including gathering evidence via warranted searches.)
there are BAG-LOADs of "good" Democrats left.
If you could point out the elected ones that fit your description and get any airtime, I’d appreciate it. The mainstream media is doing a good job of giving the ideologue Democrats the rope to hang themselves.

I to believe that this issue will backfire on the Democrats in the Nov 06 elections.

With any luck the result will be the ideologue/opportunist Democrats will split the party. The moderate/centrists (on both sides) should control the debate, but unfortunately, middle of the road doesn’t raise as much money as single issue and oppositional politics.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
I do not find anywhere where the good people of this site say that there shouldn’t be a principled debate about, or proper checks and balances on the Patriot Act.

In fact, Keith, we said it just last week:
I want to make a point however. My agreeing with Morris on these two points doesn’t mean I agree that the entire Patriot Act should be renewed. However I also don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and that is precisely what Congress is doing by rejecting the whole of the Act instead of examining those pieces which are important and renewing them while amending or doing away with those elements that seem to intrusive or aren’t doing the job.

But of course that requires hard bipartisan work focused on doing what is best for the country, something, I’ve become convinced, the Democratic Congressional leadership has absolutely no desire to do.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well Whilst my cacicate won in ’04 I would point out that his opponent received 48% of the vote. Is it your contention that 48% of the voting public are Michael Moore and the Daily Kos? I meet good Democrats EVERY day, Bithead. As I said, you’re making this more bitter than it needs to be. Nancy Pelosi IS and IS NOT the Democratic Party. Yes, she shapes their positions on National issues, however she does not represent all Democrats. I know numbers of Democrats that do NOT share these views and are attempting to change the party’s national stance.

It is foolish to discuss "All" Democrats or "All" Republicans, especially in dismissive and negative terms. SOME Democrats want to cut and run and SOME people who vote Democratic want the other side to win, it’s true. But others disagree and are attempting, slowly, to dislodge the Pelosi’s/Tom Haydon’s. It is silly and counter-productive to talk of ALL Democrats as Michael Moore’s just as it would be silly and counter-productive to speak of ALL Republicans as Mouth-Breathing, Nascar-cheering, Jesus-Freak 700 Club watchers and homophobes.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, this is NOT a battle of Good v. Evil. Now Kos and Moore et. al. may see it that way, more’s the pity on them. Those of us on the other side are NOT bound to see our opponents as the epitome of EVILLLL, nor should we think it of those that disagree with us.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The Democrats, however, seem genetically (in a political sense) unable to avoid the extreme in their opposition to this administration, and my guess is it is going to cost them dearly in ’06

Bush has been blessed with stupid (domestic) enemies...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Bithead, there are BAG-LOADs of "good" Democrats left.

Really? The effects of that are sure not showing in your body of elected Democrats...

Just how small is that bag anyway?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Well depends on your definition of "good Democrats." As I pointed out the ones I speak did NOT vote for Bush, but they aren’t Michael Moore/Tom Haydon clones either. If by good Democrat you mean ones that voted for Dubya, supported all or most of his agenda, in short DINO’s then no they’re not good Democrats. But if you mean people that don’t agree with Republicans, but don’t call them Repugs or Rethugs or think that Diebold sold Ohio out, they are good Democrats and they are quite numerous.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe;

Here’s your answer... and a challange.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Bithead, it’s hyperbole there ARE Democrats that do all those things...What you mean is that not ENOUGH of them do it. Logically, when I can point out ONE Democrat I invalidate your whole argument. And my friends and my office ARE full of such Democrats.

The problem with the party is its centre of gravity, it still leans too far Left and pays too much attention to its Moonbats, but they do not represent ALL Democrats.

To think they do is to fool oneself. And in fooling oneself leads to defeat. We must know our enemy, to create delusional straw men Democrats is to limit ones ability to succeed against them.

Your blog makes nice rhetoric, but it is too reminiscent of "The Anti-Idiotarian Rotweiller". Invective does not substitute for thought
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Bithead, it’s hyperbole there ARE Democrats that do all those things...What you mean is that not ENOUGH of them do it. Logically, when I can point out ONE Democrat I invalidate your whole argument. And my friends and my office ARE full of such Democrats.
It’s hyperbole to aver that these are anything but a rarity.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
OK Bithead, but I pray you don’t become a Republican Chairperson of any note...with that attitude you’re going to lead your party to disaster. The problem with the Republicans in the 1990’s was we seemed "Crazy" and the problem with the Democrats now is that they seem "Crazy". I think Jane Galt has a theory on this, any way.

Neither party is or was crazy, they were competing poorly against their opponents, but they weren’t crazy. And to typecast Democrats as conspiracy-weaving, Left-leaning Traitors is not a wise policy... they aren’t and when they turn out to be NONE of these things, then you’re going to have trouble dealing with them.

They may be a Left-of-Centre party too wed to Keynesian economics and the ideals of the Great Society, but they aren’t crazy moonbats either. If that’s how you think of them and portray them, electorally, when they cease to be those things, you will be unable to mount effective campaigns against them. Democrats, some of them at least, do the same with Republicans.

We must be evillll, or stoopit, or racist bigot homophobes....because they can not grasp what we are, even if they don’t agree with us, they mount reasonably ineffective campaigns against us. The average voter simply doesn’t see the Republican position that way, and so they discount the Democratic message. Am I wrong, well the House has been "R" for 11 years now and probably will be in ’06. The Senate has been consistently Republican and we’ve won two Presidential elections running and in all those cases the Democrats have prophesized doom for America if "those people" get elected yet we still do. I just don’t want my party to make the mistakes of my opponent’s party. Or, tangentially, to REPEAT our mistakes of the 1990’s when we face Hillary in ’08.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
They may be a Left-of-Centre party too wed to Keynesian economics and the ideals of the Great Society, but they aren’t crazy moonbats either. If that’s how you think of them and portray them, electorally, when they cease to be those things, you will be unable to mount effective campaigns against them
Two points; They ARE, in fact, moonbats for such things... and you may want to explain to me why I would want to mount a campaign against them when they stop doing such things.

You seem to be pigion-holing me as a Republican loyalist. I am not; I merely see them as the way of defeating the bigger danger... Democrats in their current state.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Well depends on your definition of "good Democrats." As I pointed out the ones I speak did NOT vote for Bush, but they aren’t Michael Moore/Tom Haydon clones either. If by good Democrat you mean ones that voted for Dubya, supported all or most of his agenda, in short DINO’s then no they’re not good Democrats. But if you mean people that don’t agree with Republicans, but don’t call them Repugs or Rethugs or think that Diebold sold Ohio out, they are good Democrats and they are quite numerous


Quite numerous?

Based on what? Certainly not on those you elect to represent you.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Let’s see, one side went hysterical over frat-style harrassment techniques (panties on the head, naked pyramids, and dog leashes) and the other side is trying to listen in on conversations between US citizens and suspected terrorists. At least the current administration is taking steps to prevent problems. I don’t know enough about the legal issues to say if the NSA hysteria is justified but the idea is a good one. I’ll stick with the side attempting to keep a handle on what’s going on.
 
Written By: Paul
URL: http://

 
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