ExclusiveRepublicans View NSA Eavesdropping as Serious Political Blunder for Bush

Dec. 20, 2005
Washington, D.C.
Vol. 40, No. 25b

To: Our Readers

Inside This Issue

  • Huge showdowns loom on Patriot Act, spending cuts, and ANWR drilling, leaving little time to rest for Christmas.
  • Democrats lose a big chance to hit Bush on the Iraq War.
  • Alito battle keeps partisans on both sides busy, even as few regular Americans pay attention.
  • Top Five for December: Potential GOP retirements.

Novak’s Outlook

1) The revelation that President George W. Bush secretly ordered NSA telephone intercepts of U.S. citizens may not have increased opposition to the President’s version of the renewed Patriot Act, but it is regarded privately by prominent Republicans as a serious political blunder. They see it as another blunder by Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales.

2) The Bush Administration’s hard-nosed, no-compromise position on the Patriot Act is based on the misconception, harbored by Democrats and Republicans alike, that former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) lost re-election in 2002 because he opposed the Homeland Security Act. Actually, he lost because Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) was a better candidate and Cleland was too liberal for Georgia. The misconception has led Republicans can feel opposition to the Patriot Act can be fatal.

3) Bush strategists are delighted that the President has taken the initiative against the war critics. But we feel that rhetoric cannot reverse the basic unpopularity of the war. It will take substantial troop withdrawals to accomplish that.

4) The backdoor effort by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to win approval of ANWR oil drilling by holding the defense appropriations bill hostage is an enormous political gamble on his part.

5) The question of House Republican leadership will be put off until Congress reconvenes after Jan. 31. The speculation is that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) will not be able to clear himself of all charges by then.

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