Tuesday, June 11, 2013

America The Hypocritical

The Washington Post has published a poll that shows that most Americans support NSA surveillance of private communication.

Steve Benen puts together this chart that compares Republican and Democratic attitudes now and in 2006.

In short, Republicans trusted Bush and Democrats trust Obama.

Benen puts a bit of a partisan spin on the numbers. The Democrats were opposing something when it was illegal but now it's legal.
So, much of the country is guilty of shameless hypocrisy? There's certainly something to this, though there's one caveat to keep in mind.
Clearly, Democrats are more comfortable with NSA surveillance under a Democratic administration, and Republicans are more comfortable with NSA surveillance under a Republican administration. There is, however, one small catch -- it's not an apples to apples comparison.
In 2006, the poll question dealt with a warrantless surveillance program in which the Bush administration exceeded its legal authority with no judicial check or congressional approval. In 2013, the Obama administration, at least given what we know now, appears to be acting within its legal authority, relying in part on the courts, and acting within a law approved by bipartisan majorities. 
For critics of government snooping, that's cold comfort, but when it comes to gauging public attitudes, the bipartisan hypocrisy comes with an asterisk.
The asterisk is, of course, an allusion to the asterisk that accompanied Roger Maris's record breaking 61 home runs because he played a 162 game season while Babe Ruth played only 154 season. That asterisk was unwarranted in 1961. Benen's is unwarranted now.

Republicans claim to be the party of small government. It's difficult to understand how an alleged party of small government and strict interpretation of the Constitution can support the security state. I fail to understand Democrats supporting something merely because it's legal. There have plenty of legal but terrible laws.

Benen is correct when he writes "with results like these, the political appetite for changing the law will likely be non-existent."

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