Selection Ensures Welcome Revival of Wiretap Debate
Some GOP leaders see a fight over Hayden as a way to paint Democrats as weak on national security. But Bush may have miscalculated.Of course a strategy that used to work won't work when your approval rating is in the low 30s. The NSA spying issue is not a winner for the administration. As Bilmon says the country is split about 50-50 on the domestic spying issue which means they really don't care or they are not paying attention.
By picking Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden as the next CIA director, President Bush faces another brawl over his controversial program to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists — including people on American soil — without court approval.
But far from fearing such a fight, the White House walked right into it by nominating the program's leading defender to head the spy agency.
Administration allies said Monday that by reviving debate over the spy program, which Hayden oversaw when he led the National Security Agency, his nomination would provide a welcome opportunity to reopen a tried-and-true election-year playbook in which Republicans attempt to portray Democrats as weak on national security.
"We welcome that debate," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the White House's closest Capitol Hill allies, in a statement released Monday. "If the president's opponents hope to argue that we're doing too much to prevent terrorism, that the intelligence agencies are fighting too hard against terrorists around the world, then we look forward to taking that debate to the American people."
Still, there were signs Monday that the White House might have miscalculated. Rather than Democrats leading the charge against Hayden, some of the most vocal opposition came from Republicans — including steadfast White House backers such as House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The point is, when you get down to 31% approval in a Gallup Poll, and your disapproval rating is trying to poll vault over the record high set by Richard Nixon just before he resigned in disgrace, it means the American people essentially think you're the political equivalent of crab lice. At that point, they're probably going to hate anything and everything you do -- even if they actually agree with it -- just because you're the one doing it. And when your own political allies feel the same way, or at least feel compelled to act the same way . . . well, it's a pretty stupid time to pick a fight.