S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

President Bush on the offense

In the heart of America people are taking notice of what is happening in Washington, D.C. A scan of news sources "outside of the beltway," reveals that Mr. Bush gets mixed reviews for his performance in recent days. Many applaud his Sunday night speech for its newly conciliatory tone, and decry his return to combativeness at his Monday morning news conference.
He has returned to the throne.

News - The Ohio News quoted the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush, brushing aside bipartisan criticism in
Congress, said Monday he approved spying on suspected terrorists without court
orders because it was "a necessary part of my job to protect" Americans from attack. The president said he would continue the program "for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens," and added it included safeguards to protect civil liberties. Bush bristled at a year-end news conference when asked whether there are any limits on presidential power in wartime. "I just described limits on this particular program, and that's what's important for the American people to understand," Bush said. Raising his voice, Bush challenged Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton - without naming them - to allow a final vote on legislation renewing the anti-terror Patriot Act. "I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to explain why these cities are safer" without the extension, he said.
Editorial opinion - The Denver Post wrote an excellent editorial from which I quote:
"A more realistic tone on Iraq policy President's uncompromising remarks on electronic eavesdropping without court approval are a contrast to softer message on matters involving Iraq."

Analysis - quoted from the Frankfort, Indiana Times :

Even with his high-profile display of candor — a step anxious Republican leaders had been demanding for weeks — Bush remained unyielding."To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I will not allow it," he said in a prime-time address, capping a series of five speeches designed to reverse a stunning political free-fall. There is some evidence that the rhetorical shift has worked. Recent polls suggest that while a majority of Americans disapprove of Bush's performance, his job rating has increased a bit. Nearly six of every 10 Americans said the U.S. military should stay until Iraq is stabilized, which is Bush's position.

Lawmaker response to Bush's initiatives - quoting from the Boston Globe:

Lawmakers from both parties yesterday questioned the legality of the Bush administration's secret wiretapping -- done without court approval -- of US citizens and foreign nationals, even as the White House continued to defend the intercepts as critical to stopping potential terrorist attacks.

Letters to the editor - The letters in the Fort Worth Star Telegram are almost universally critical of our current president's domestic surveillance policies. To quote one writer:

If I hadn't known already what the story was about, I'd have guessed that the Sunday headline "Bush defends right to spy on Americans" was on loan from The Onion or Saturday Night Live. But, no! It's all true, as President Bush continues to make it clear that he believes his powers to be those of a king, not an elected official in a democracy based on a Constitution and a system of checks and balances. He doesn't care that a procedure already is in place to conduct such surveillance. That would have required court approval, but getting anyone's approval doesn't square with the way Bush sees himself, as a sort of Congress-be-damned cowboy who shoots first and asks questions ... well, never. Introspection isn't Bush's thing.

From elsewhere in the world others are also noting what our current president is up to, and how it plays in the polls.

Opinion Poll - BBC News reported on U. S. public opinion polls:

An opinion poll, carried out for ABC News and the Washington Post, shows his
approval rating has risen to 47%, from an all-time low of 39% in November. High
voter turnout in Iraq and growing public confidence in Mr Bush's handling of
national security and the economy led to the rise, the poll suggests. It comes as Mr Bush faces mounting criticism over secret phone tapping. The latest opinion poll shows his approval rating on Iraq has risen by 10% since early November to 46%. On the economy, his rating has jumped 11 points, to 47%, the Washington Post reports. His overall approval rating has risen to 47%, from 39% in early November. Some 52% say they disapprove of how he is handling his job. The poll found that approval over Mr Bush's handling of the fight against terrorism had risen to 56%, from 48% last month.

Googled - "Polls rise." There were dozens of articles about Bush's rise in popularity.

In the heart of colonial America, public opinion about the British monarchy left behind by those who migrated to America, influenced the way the framers of the Constitution handled the question of civil liberties during times of war. They inserted very specific and strong protections for citizens. And the Supreme Court has affirmed these provisions many times. See this Boston Globe article on constitutionality of certain war powers. It is very heartening to see that Americans still resist imperial attitudes when they are exhibited by our current president.


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