"This wasn't our program. It's not our mess, and we're not going to clean it up."
--An unnamed F.B.I. official, commenting on the NSA’s spying debacle
It’s been an interesting 48 hours. Yesterday, without much hesitation in the midst of the Alito backslaps, Arlen Specter offers that impeachment is a viable remedy should it be determined that Bush broke the law and conducted domestic spying without warrants.
Zogby comes out with a new poll that shows Bush’s approval rating falling below 40 percent again. And what are the major reasons? Bush’s support is falling due to the war, which an AP poll shows is now again the number one concern of respondents, with political corruption a growing concern. In fact, after a recent rebound, most polls now show his support falling again.
Then, Gore sends an ICBM up the ass of the White House and GOP congress.
Not to be outdone, and after Bushwhacking the White House last week for not providing our soldiers with adequate armor, Hillary comes out today and blasts the president for the NSA mess.
After being one of his biggest post-9/11 cheerleaders, none other than Christopher Hitchens himself joins an ACLU lawsuit against the Bush Administration to find out whether or not innocent Americans were spied upon without warrants.
Then, in its latest string of exclusives on the subject, the New York Times runs a piece tomorrow that reports the NSA gathered data on perhaps thousands of Americans post-9/11, and then flooded the FBI with this information, only to have the FBI object to the program itself, and the dumping of information on them as if these everyday Americans were criminals. Worse yet, the FBI tells the Times that it is questionable how much the data-mining effort by the NSA against Americans has yielded against Al Qaeda inside the country. My question is this: the Risen book is already out. Where are these ongoing tips to the Times coming from?
Bob Ney gets the treatment from both Time and Newsweek, which reports that Ney wanted to help Iran of all countries. Abramoff will be taking down none other than Ralph Reed as well. And while all of this has been going on, Denny Hastert has been trying to stay clear of it amidst grumblings that he has done too little too late.
If that isn’t enough to give the GOP and White House heartburn, isn’t it time that Democrats tied the GOP culture of corruption to failed policies that are harming the lives of everyday folks, like the Medicare Part D fiasco? We have been arguing for months that Democrats need to tie their attacks to actual failed policies that harm real people everyday, and the Medicare Part D program (as Kevin Drum and Greg Sargent suggest) and the recent West Virginia mining disaster are good ways to start. Thankfully, it appears that Democratic strategists now agree.
All in all, there is hope that we will have a good year smacking these folks around, no matter what diversions they now try with Iran. Make no mistake, while we try and run 2006 as an indictment of six years of GOP one-party rule, corruption, and ineptitude, the White House will try and scare the wingers and Kool-Aid drinkers once again with fear and terror. They will do this with Iran, and by telling us that anyone who tries and holds them accountable for the NSA spying and Iraq war is a treasonous Al Qaeda supporter. Democrats must be ready to respond in kind, not only on the issues we want, but to go directly at the GOP claims that they are better at keeping us safe. That means making the war front and center an issue of competence, trust, and effectiveness. Democrats need to show that it is Bush's own policies that make us unable to deal with Iran effectively, and it is Bush himself who has empowered Islamists throughout the region, not his Democratic critics. And exactly how safe are we when this administration couldn't even protect the homeland from a hurricane that was predicted?
As I said earlier today, Democrats need to fight battles every month of this year, and be ready for the White House to attack from a position of weakness, including the war and this NSA debacle. They will try and tell us that they are better at keeping us safer. We must be ready to preempt them on this by continually hammering away at how their ineptitude, lies, and deviousness have actually made us less safe and are harming our people every day.