Bush “a lot closer to Nixon than … to Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton”

I’ve heard about this before. Not just talking about Bush, real tensions can arise even within a political party between a president in his second (and constitutionally final) term and members of congress who will seek re-election.

But, talking about Bush’s authorization of the National Security Agency to spy on Americans:

“What’s wrong with it is several-fold,” former GOP Congressman Bob Barr says of the domestic spying. “One, it is bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without a court order.”

In his Rant, Doug Thompson writes, “Barr, one of the most conservative members of Congress when he served in the House, leads an increasing group of disenchanted Republicans who have had enough of Bush’s misuse of the law and encroachment of civil liberties that are supposed to be protected by the Constitution. He has joined with fellow conservative firebrand Phyllis Schlafly and the ultra-liberal American Civil Liberties Union to fight renewal of many of the rights-robbing provisions of the USA Patriot Act.” This isn’t even just a split within the Republican Party. It’s a split amongst conservatives, some of whom retain a distrust of government, even when led by one of their morally superior own.

But Bush continues to see anyone who opposes his policies as a traitor. It’s an all or nothing position.

[A] political scientist, the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, says Bush has problems and knows it.

“Things are bad,” Sabato says of Bush’s situation. “Really bad.” Sabato says you can tell that Bush knows this because it is “written all over” Bush’s face when he appears in public.

So he has a message for the President.

“The lesson is obvious, Mr. President: You’re a lot closer to Nixon than you are to Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton. And that’s not where you want to be. Nixon’s second term ended rather badly, as you will recall.”

Nixon, facing imminent impeachment, resigned. Today, it still seems a stretch to imagine a Republican Congress impeaching a Republican President. But this spying has to be a real problem for anyone who has spent a career rationalizing a senseless nuclear buildup and a bizarre policy towards Cuba by denouncing Communist police states. An important civics lesson is in the making here and I’m honestly wondering how it’s going to come out.

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