And So It Begins…

I’m turning an eye to the future…and seeing the inevitable. Bush isn’t a popular president—hasn’t been for a good long time, even though the GOP and their dutiful shills have managed to convince a large swath of the mainstream media that 40% = beyond reproach. But with midterm elections coming, and multiple problems (known in some circles as “scandals”) plaguing an administration led by a president who’s worn out his terms and a VP who ain’t gonna run, the GOP is starting to get antsy about guilt by association. It was all fun and games to be complicit in the madness while winning was assured, but now it’s time to find that dusty valise and unpack the old integrity again.

When Representative Heather A. Wilson broke ranks with President Bush on Tuesday to declare her "serious concerns" about domestic eavesdropping, she gave voice to what some fellow Republicans were thinking, if not saying…

The White House, in a turnabout, briefed the full House and Senate Intelligence Committee on the program this week, after Ms. Wilson, chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees the N.S.A., had called for a full-scale Congressional investigation. But some Republicans say that is not enough.

"I don't think that's sufficient," Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said. "There is considerable concern about the administration's just citing the president's inherent authority or the authorization to go to war with Iraq as grounds for conducting this program. It's a stretch."

…Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who has also criticized the program, said Ms. Wilson's comments were "a sign of a growing movement" by lawmakers to reassert the power of the legislature.
In his defense, the president explained:

"You've got to understand something about me," Mr. Bush said. "Sept. 11 changed the way I think.”
Insert your own joke here.

Something, as they say, has got to give. And it looks, at times, like the GOP is poised to give it but good to Dear Leader. But here’s the conundrum: While moderate Republicans, national security swing-voters, and conservatives with a libertarian streak are becoming increasingly agitated, the conservative base upon whom Bush has so relied—the bulk of that stubborn 40% who would defend and support Bush no matter what because he’s Patriot #1—are unhappy with seeing his decisions questioned.

You could find just about everything at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this week: the bumper sticker that says "Happiness is Hillary's face on a milk carton," the "Straight Pride" T-shirt, a ride on an F-22 Raptor simulator at the Lockheed exhibit, and beans from the Contra Cafe coffee company (slogan: "Wake up with freedom fighters")…

"Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?" Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. "Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?"

Barr answered in the affirmative. "Do we truly remain a society that believes that . . . every president must abide by the law of this country?" he posed. "I, as a conservative, say yes. I hope you as conservatives say yes."

But nobody said anything in the deathly quiet audience. Barr merited only polite applause when he finished, and one man, Richard Sorcinelli, booed him loudly. "I can't believe I'm in a conservative hall listening to him say [Bush] is off course trying to defend the United States," Sorcinelli fumed.
What to do when you want to throw someone to the wolves, but the wolves won’t bite?

Good luck, GOP. That’s a tough fence to straddle, friends.

(Crossposted at Ezra’s place.)

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