Tuesday, May 13, 2008

But Having George W. Bush as President Changed Everything

This Glenn Greenwald column posted at antiwar.com is a gem.

Throughout the 1990s, conservatism was defined by its fear of expansive powers seized by the federal government – particularly domestic law-enforcement and surveillance powers. Conservatives vigorously opposed every proposal to expand the government’s investigative and surveillance authority on the grounds that such powers posed intolerable threats to our liberties. More than specific policies, the right-wing ideology was grounded in warnings against the dangers of unchecked government power.

Illustrating this ideology was the speech delivered by Ronald Reagan in accepting his party’s nomination at the 1980 GOP Convention:

"Trust me" government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs – in the people.

Following this path, conservatives have endlessly claimed that they stand for limitations on government intrusion into the lives of Americans. One article in 2000 on the right-wing web-site Free Republic actually decried the dangerous loss of liberty and privacy as a result of what it alarmingly described as the Clinton administration’s use of a "secret court" (something called the "FISA court") that actually enables the federal government to eavesdrop on American citizens! Worse, warned the article, the judicial approval that the government obtains for this eavesdropping is in secret, so we don’t even know who is being eavesdropped on!

The conservative commenters at Free Republic – having been fed a steady diet of anti-government rhetoric for decades – predictably reacted to news of expanded eavesdropping powers under FISA with such liberty-minded sentiments as "This is beyond frightening"; "This does not bode well for continued freedom"; "Franz Kafka would have judged this too wild to fictionalize. But for us – it’s real." One worried right-wing commentator wondered: "Any chance of Bush rolling some of this back? It sounds amazing on its face." Another pointed out – quite rationally – the severe dangers of allowing the government to exercise power in secret and with little oversight:

This is one of those ideas that has a valid purpose behind it, but is wide open to terrible abuse. And there’s no way to check to see if it is abused.

Like all things that don’t have the light of day shining on them, you can be sure that it is being twisted to suit the purposes of those who hold the power.

Just makes you feel on warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

Read it all.

1 comment:

ahab said...

Doesn't get any more shameless than that, does it?