This feels like a big moment to me, these Edward Snowden leaks, a moment when we have to make decisions that aren’t based, for either Dems or Republicans, on how we feel about President Obama. I don’t feel that we are up to it. After 9/11, I believe that members of both parties in Congress acted in good faith, really just wanting to do the right thing so that we wouldn’t get attacked again. You can say they went too far with the Patriot Act, but if they did, I believe their motives were honest, maybe based too much on raw emotion, but not based on partisan politics.
I believe our current Congress has a lot more crazy people in it than the Congress sitting in the fall of 2001. I have much less confidence in them to even try to act out of principle, much less reach the right result.
I worry that we can’t have a real debate because some Dems will rally uncritically around the President simply because he is so hated by the other side and so under siege on the IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare, AP/James Rosen, immigration, etc. I worry that the libertarian wing of the GOP, the Rand Paul types, will use this as an excuse to make some of their more outlandish theories and beliefs part of the mainstream.
This is a moment ripe for a shift in thinking and policy one way or the other, either to accept and ratify all this post-9/11 stuff for the foreseeable future or to say, “Whoa, this tradeoff doesn’t make sense” and roll some of it back. I just hope that the wrong people don’t control the outcome of that shift.