Bush has a (new) Problem

It seems that the calls for hearings on illegal wiretaps aren't limited to 'Blame America Liberals' playing politics with National Security. The U.S. Newswire is reporting that "Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB) today called upon Congress to hold open, substantive oversight hearings examining the President's authorization of the National Security Agency (NSA) to violate domestic surveillance requirements outlined in the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)."

At first glance, this does not seem all that earth shattering. It certainly wouldn't scare President "I don't read newspapers" Bush. So a bunch of liberal loonies want to hold hearings. The president can just brush them off and repeat his Presidential Mantra: '9/11 changed everything.' A closer examination, however, reveals some serious problems for the Bush Administration. Check out some of these quotes.

"I believe that our executive branch cannot continue to operate without the checks of the other branches. However, I stand behind the President in encouraging Congress to operate cautiously during the hearings so that sensitive government intelligence is not given to our enemies." -- Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO, Free Congress Foundation

"Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping." -- Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform

"The need to reform surveillance laws and practices adopted since 9/11 is more apparent now than ever. No one would deny the government the power it needs to protect us all, but when that power poses a threat to the basic rights that make our nation unique, its exercise must be carefully monitored by Congress and the courts. This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of all Americans so that future administrations do not interpret our laws in ways that pose constitutional concerns." -- David Keene, chairman, American Conservative Union

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Conservatives, perhaps in a different way than liberals, have always guarded their freedoms and rights (especially the one to keep and bear arms) closely. Conservatism is at its root distrustful of any government authority. Grover Norquist famous promise to reduce government to a size small enough to drown it in a bath tub is typical of this streak of distrust.

Thinking conservatives (as in NOT Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Rielly, or a Ditto-Head) realize that our enumerated rights and freedoms are essentially hard limits on what the government can do. The 'limited government' concept appeals to conservatives, even if they find certain rights inconvenient at times. Now that President Bush has taken to ignoring limits when he finds them inconvenient, we'll see an increasing number of conservatives begin to move further away from the President.

The Presidents poll numbers are at about 40% approval, give or take two points. His approval among Democrats is something like 5%. His approval among Independents is also low, about 30%, which means that most of the approval variations you'll see over the next three years will reflect changes in Bush's approval by his own party. As more self described conservatives and Republicans catch on to Bush's game, they'll desert him.

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