We’ve had a solid couple of weeks for the collective outrage over government snooping and partisan trickery to sink in and begin to percolate through the American consciousness. But as has happened too many times over the decades I’ve been following Beltway Bandits, I have to wonder exactly how this is playing out at kitchen tables around the country. Sure, the people who report on it or write about it for a living, as well as the many people who read and listen to such sources obsessively, are up in arms. I’ve been seeing it at both liberal and conservative outlets. But the reality is that we make up only a tiny, miniscule fraction of the population – particularly in a non election year. What about everyone else? Are they watching? Do they care?
Rick Moran checks into a few recent surveys on just this topic and the news doesn’t look encouraging.
Put aside the civil-liberties argument with regard to the NSA surveillance programs and look at the political fallout that these revelations might mean. Are the voters angry about the government keeping track of their phone calls and internet communications?
Surprisingly, according to two respected polling outfits, the answer is no.
He’s referring to a summary provided by Politico of a couple recent polls which seem to indicate that even those Americans who are paying attention are still willing to make some sacrifices in the name of security.
“The outrage is coming from the people who write, but not the people who vote,” said Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock, president of Global Strategy Group, adding that the type of surveillance revealed this week is seen as “a necessary evil.”
“People are willing to kind of bite the bullet a little bit if it helps stop terrorist attacks,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group…
Republican elder statesman Charlie Black complained about conservatives who defended the practice under Bush, now trashing it under Obama. He said radio host Mark Levin would normally push to go after the terrorists but he caught him decrying it as Big Brother on the drive home from work Thursday.
Black, a confidante of Senate hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, said the re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last year empowered the government to do exactly this sort of surveillance. He wishes the government could be more candid about plots that have been thwarted.
“My guess is, a week or two from now, it’s not going to be a hot issue with the public but I don’t know that for sure,” he said.
While perhaps depressing, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise. For an anecdotal example, I’ve been doing some business travel recently in the South and talking to some great guys who are definitely conservative in nature. One of them has been very outgoing in talking to me about gun control laws, a topic he was definitely following. This week, I broached the subject at hand, saying, “So, how about that NSA thing, huh?”
Almost without missing a beat he said, “That was over before it started, man. Ain’t nobody going to stop LeBron.”
I died a little inside.