January 23, 2006


First glance (Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray, Huma Zaidi and Holly Phillips, January 23, 2006, NBC First Read)

The Bush Administration's campaign to rally support for their NSA domestic spying program in advance of Senate hearings on February 6 now matches the intensity of their all-out 2005 push to establish private accounts for Social Security. Unlike that uphill fight on unfamiliar territory, however, they're fighting this battle on familiar turf, employing the same arguments and tactics they used against Democrats in 2002 and 2004. There's just one little tweak: They are taking care to note that they aren't questioning Democrats' patriotism -- just their approach to fighting terrorism. Karl Rove said on Friday, "Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview, and Democrats have a pre-9/11 world view... It does not make them unpatriotic. It does make them wrong."

Republicans clearly see an opening to try to tarnish Democrats not only for 2006 but also for 2008, going after any Democrat with national standing or aspirations, judging from the Republican National Committee's release yesterday lumping Sens. John Kerry and Barack Obama together in response to their criticisms of the NSA program. "When Democrats illustrate that they fail to understand the dynamic and dangers of a post 9/11 world, we’ll work to point that out," RNC communications director Brian Jones tells First Read.

The Administration seems confident of two things: 1) that the public cares more about the war than they do about government corruption and reform, on which Democrats are focusing their efforts, and 2) that when the debate over their anti-terror policies, both the NSA program and the Patriot Act, is framed as a choice between personal safety and personal liberties, a majority of the public will come down in favor of safety. Democrats argue that this choice is false but have yet to articulate that argument forcefully enough to beat back the now-incessant pounding from all levels of the GOP, whose argument also overlooks opposition to the policies from within the party.

Democrats are putting down an awful lot of chips on Americans wanting to be nicer to Arabs.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 23, 2006 9:34 AM

Wow, lumping together Democrats from as far apart on the spectrum as Obama and Kerry. That's extreme.

Posted by: Timothy at January 23, 2006 1:19 PM

Even if the Democrats convince a majority of Americans that Republicans are the more likely party to get their sons and daughters killed in places halfway around the world, until they can convice a majority of voters they won't be the party more likely to get their sons and daughters killed inside the U.S., their national election hopes remain problematic.

Posted by: John at January 23, 2006 2:44 PM