Friday, May 12, 2006

Tipping Point?

Aren't we past that point by now?

"The truth is putting on its boots while a lie has travelled half-way around the world."

It is amazing how willfully clueless some pundits can be:

Are we at a tipping point yet? What author Malcolm Gladwell described as small things that make a big difference seems like an apt metaphor for the latest developments on civil liberties and the Bush administration. First was Thursday morning's USA Today story, declaring, "NSA Has Massive Database of Americans' Phone Calls." The story dominated the morning news shows and drove the day's events, with the President racing to the microphones in the Diplomatic Room of the White House before departing on a trip to Mississippi. Bush didn't get into the specifics of the USA Today story, but he did defend the program, saying the federal government is not "mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans."
Let's see: Bush's approval rating is down as low as 29%, and nowhere above 36%. Do you think the public might have turned against him by now?

Oh, we're just talking about approval or disapproval of the wiretapping programs? Well, nobody likes those, either. Back in February, 20% of Americans thought they had been wiretapped. Wonder what the percentage is now?

And, of course, now we have the resignation of Mike Luttig, which is being linked to civil liberties issues even if there is no connection; lawyers from the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility getting shut out of a professional ethics investigation by the NSA; and apparently new allegations ready to spill forth (which, in fairness, Mr. Cooper could not have known about when he wrote his column). Even Newt Gingrich isn't trying to defend this program.

So to review the bidding: Bush's Justice Department is blocked from investigating its own controversial spy program; a leading conservative jurist resigns, reportedly in part over the government's handling of civil liberties; and a big NSA program of eavesdropping on Americans' phone-calling patterns is revealed. Will this be enough to turn public opinion against Bush on civil liberties and terrorism?
The question is not, will opinion turn against Bush on civil liberties, but how much more it will turn against him.

Which may finally shock the Beltway denizens into awareness of just how angry most people really are.

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