Forget That Talk About Congressional GOP Friction With White House
Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post runs a Page One today reporting that Bush’s recent problems with his own party in Congress were long in the making, and can be traced back to the earliest days of his administration. The piece has some good quotes in it from GOP members of Congress, and the main point is that Bush can no longer count on a solid block of support from his party, especially if vulnerable GOP incumbents this fall feel that a pullback in Iraq is necessary for their political survival. These GOP losers are basically admitting to what Norm Ornstein calls “battered Congress syndrome”, where they have seen their institutional prerogatives for oversight trampled by a White House they have blindly supported all these years, without getting anything but money in return. And now, according to VandeHei, facing a dicey reelection this year, they are finally telling the White House that enough is enough.
The Senate passed a 2007 budget late yesterday by a bare 51-49 vote, with five GOP defections against it, and only Mary Landrieu of the Democrats voting for it after she got hurricane related help added to the budget. The budget bill ditched many of Bush’s proposals from just a couple of months ago, including his Medicare and other domestic spending cuts. And this is supposed to demonstrate that Bush is having problems with his own party in the Senate. By the way, you can thank Landrieu for opening up ANWR, as her vote gave the GOP the victory they have been seeking for years.
There is still one issue where even the poor battered GOP bitches in Congress will still take the abuse from the White House and come back for more: NSA spying. After saying last month that they would back a Democratic call for an inquiry into Bush’s NSA spying illegalities, Mike DeWine, Chuck Hagel, and Olympia Snowe signed onto a bill yesterday that would make Bush’s illegalities legal and grant the NSA 45 days to spy on whomever they want without getting a warrant. At the 45-day mark, the NSA could either 1) stop the surveillance; 2) go to the FISA court for a warrant; or 3) go to the Select Committee in Congress to get permission to continue the spying without a warrant.
That's right; these battered partners in crime are willing to hand over to the Executive Branch unfettered rights to spy as it sees fit for 45 days without any judicial or legislative oversight of who is being spied upon, all in the name of saving those bedwetting cowards from the big bad terrorists hiding under their beds.
Thankfully, even if these three pathetic abused partners think discarding the Constitution and Bill of Rights is OK, at least Arlen Specter isn’t going along yet:
It is far from clear whether the bill can win passage. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) -- whose panel plays a major role in the surveillance matter -- pointed his thumb down yesterday when asked about the measure. He said he particularly objects to letting the government "do whatever the hell it wants" for 45 days without seeking judicial or congressional approval.
Hagel, Snowe, and DeWine, who got a load of money from a Bush fundraiser weeks ago, all caved into pressure (from a Vice President with a microscopic approval rating) to back off investigating how badly this administration has trampled both the privacy rights of our citizens and constitutional checks and balances. I don’t believe a word of it when I hear that GOP senators and representatives are bucking this administration. They are all patsies for the White House, and all deserve to go down with the ship with this cabal in 2006 and 2008. They will do whatever the White House wants for money and out of fear, no matter what image of independence they can make the media swallow.