Out of the dusky darkness of the Republican depths a dry, whispery wind has begun blowing. Carried on that malevolent breath comes the sour groaning of those ancient ancestors of today's American Conservative movement: the Paleo-conservatives!
From U.S. Newswire:
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, chairman of PRCB, was joined by fellow conservatives Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, in urging lawmakers to use NSA hearings to establish a solid foundation for restoring much needed constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law.
"When the Patriot Act was passed shortly after 9-11, the federal government was granted expanded access to Americans' private information," said Barr. "However, federal law still clearly states that intelligence agents must have a court order to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans on these shores. Yet the federal government overstepped the protections of the Constitution and the plain language of FISA to eavesdrop on Americans' private communication without any judicial checks and without proof that they are involved in terrorism."
Now, I would like to believe that the gross mismanagement of the country by President Bush has led to this sudden round of chastisement by the old guard conservatives. Sadly, I'm not quite that optimistic about the sudden feelings of civic responsibility bubbling up among the old anti-government crowd. After all, it's rather difficult to take these groups seriously given their silence over Bush's trampling of conservative ideals. Where were the conservatives when:
- Bush launched an unprovoked and illegal war in Iraq, based on selectively chosen intelligence?
- The Senate passed 99-1 (duly noted, Senator Feingold!) the USA Patriot Act, containing a vast expansion of government powers and curtailing certain civil rights?
- Bush fiscal policies caused record deficits in the federal budget and ballooned the national debt?
- Bush and the Republicans pushed numerous conservative religious social restrictions, forcing the federal government into the bedrooms, lives and even hospice beds of American citizens?
Their stony silence and lack of action on these and other issues makes their stance in opposition to Bush a little suspicious now. A principled stand? Perhaps. But more likely, a conservative movement that realizes its elected representatives are grossly out of step with the American people. Bush's approval ratings continue to dip below 40%, while Republican scandals grab headlines across the country. I suspect that Bob Barr and company have suddenly found their moral outrage because they realize 2006 mid-term prospects are looking very dim for the Republican party.
Still, it is nice to see that Bush's conservative base is crumbling apart. They finally seem to realize that this is not the man to lead them into the free-market feudalistic society of which they've dreamt for years. Enough of the shine has come off the man that even conservatives cannot delude themselves into believing he's a great president any longer. The Republican ship is listing badly, and the old conservative rats are heading overboard in a big hurry.
One other quote from the article:
"Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping." -- Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform
This is my favorite of the bunch, not because I give two shits what a lunatic like Grover Norquist thinks; he's proven himself beyond the realm of responsible public policy plenty of times. I like this quote because of what it signifies regarding the President and his party. If George W. Bush, the biggest tax-cutter to ever sit in the Oval Office, has lost Grover Norquist, then he has truly lost the country.