Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Politics Of Poor Poll Numbers


That the President's poll numbers are astonishingly low is quite a curious fact, but the reality of such unpopularity is playing out today in Washington.

Isn't it peculiar that the confluence of national security and civil rights comes together the same week that the President nominated Gen. Michael Hayden to lead the CIA? It's more telling that the USA Today is being credited with rehashing three-month old news. In this AP story that is leading many local newspapers, the headlines blare that millions of Americans were snooped upon by a NSA-led covert action devised by the very same Gen. Hayden.

That AT&T/SBC, Verizon, BellSouth handed over phone records just after 9/11 was a national furor over three months ago. The difference? Low poll numbers combined with a collective resignment in Washington that Congress may well switch hands come November.

When President Bush picked Gen. Hayden, under the presumption that he was a Pentagon-friendly nominee, the impetus to take action by Republicans in Congress against such a perceived defender of abusing civil rights has become one of very few plays for the GOP to play. Not only did they allow the President to drag us into this Iraq quagmire, but they also let this guy listen to our private conversations?

To hear once loyal Republicans openly question whether a military man leading an important civilian job would have seemed treasonous (it may actually become literally treason if things continue as they are) a mere six months ago.

This is what happens to politicians that stake their livelihood on the heels of a hollow, yet once-popular President. When the winds of change swirl around their hands they jump ship like the rats they are. If such rational thought lied within the GOP back in 2001 and after, controversial legislation like the Patriot Act, highly dubious forays into Iraq and covert plans to snoop on Americans would have been honestly debated, instead of forwarded with a wink and a smile.

Instead, the impending Democratic majority will have a crowded aisle of opportunistic Republicans come November, calling for ethics in government and a return to the America of old (presumably, for Republicans, when they could get away with anything).