Friday, May 12, 2006

Silly Congress (Or Is It Smart?)

So bipartisan rancor is building up about the NSA wiretapping business and how they might have gotten their extensive and probing hands on everyone's phone records. Arlen Specter wants subpoenas. Why? Because Arlen Specter probably knows it's Bush's political savior. Republicans can hold hearings and do as much talking about this as they want, because the more they do the more the public seems to like the fact that the NSA can find out whatever it wants about them and listen to all of their phonecalls. I can't help but feel so much of the "outrage" by Republicans is a wink and a nudge, an effort to bring more attention to Bush's aggressive anti-terrorism tactics and steer Congress and the public's attention away from immigration and Iraq. Democrats, however, are falling for this ruse. As they line up in an effort to attack the President on this, they are going to continue to seem like the people who don't go far enough.

I think Sullivan's formulation that "We Don't Care" is dead wrong. I think people do care. They actually want the NSA doing what it's doing. The more I consider the nomination of Hayden, the more I think it was a shrewd and brilliant move by Bush. Sure, Bainbridge thinks it's him giving his critics the finger, but it might just work out for him. Or at least slow his freefall into total unpopular doom. Perhaps Rove is postulating that what Bush needs are hearings that remind everyone of how he called in the stormtroopers after 9/11 and saved everyone. At least, that's what still seems to be what the public believes.

I, actually, have a somewhat different take. After years of being bombarded with trashy movies like Enemy of the State, I think we need to ask a different question. And that is:

-Do people just assume that's what the NSA does and has been doing for years? And they're not really reacting strongly to this because to them it's old news?

I think Tom Clancy has gone a long way toward convincing people that this is business as usual, and that's why they aren't going up in arms over a database and some seized phone records. If you bombard people so much with screeds telling them their freedom has been compromised, and even in some cases romanticizing it (24), then shouldn't we expect it to affect their attitudes?