The Spectacle Blog

Re: NSA

By on 12.20.05 | 9:57AM

Jed, as a follow up, this is classic Will ambiguity:

But conservatives' wholesome wariness of presidential power has been a casualty of conservative presidents winning seven of the last 10 elections.
George H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon, though very astute and worthy presidents in their own right (again, forgiving their major faults), haven't the conservative mark in history -- they were moderates. I'm not interested in gauging presidential status on the Conserv-O-Meter, but the argument Will is constructing here hinges on the assumption that these "conservative" presidents really clung to conservative principles, and as such really identified with the conservative movements that put them in power. You may be able to say that Nixon was, but only as an embattled president. Bush I is a harder case.

Will would be wrong to say the conservative appetite for limited government was sated by President Bush I's tenure; it was his trespass against his tax pledge that led to his downfall.

The only point that really kept me nodding was this line:

...The president's decision to authorize NSA's surveillance without the complicity of a court or Congress was a mistake. Perhaps one caused by this administration's almost metabolic urge to keep Congress unnecessarily distant and hence disgruntled.
This argument could be completely divorced from it's antecedent, that we can safely assume Congress would have hopped along with Bush's request for the broader executive powers he acted on in using the NSA. We can't assume that, and we don't have to. There has been a very poor relationship between the President and his party throughout his time in office, and the pressure Bush faces now is no doubt a part of it. But whether Congress has a right to be disgruntled is unknown -- after all, Bush has yet to veto anything put before him.
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