Patriot (Act) Games

As far as I’m concerned, all the coverage of the congressional games about how many months in the temporary extension of the Patriot Act (complete with controversial bits) ignores the aspect which interests me most. Take, for example, this Washington Post article, House Passes One-Month Extension of Patriot Act. Nowhere does it mention that the Senate’s move from a three months to a six months struck terror into the ranks of both parties in the House.

It’s possible of course that the article doesn’t mention this terror because it does not exist, but I bet it does. It’s only logical. And that explains why the House GOP has cut the extension to one month: because they are afraid of their constituents. And it explains why the House Democrats have meekly gone along: because they are afraid of their constituents too.

See, six months from expiration brings us to June, which uncomfortably close to the next congressional election. The GOP doesn’t want hard questions being asked them about ‘why did you vote to spy on me, Congressman’. But the House dems don’t want attacks about ‘why did you vote against catching terrorists’ or the like. So both parties in the House have decided it’s in their self-interest to get this over with as fast as possible.

They two parties represent different groups of areas, so it’s theoretically possible that both parties are broadly right about their own constituents. But that would be weird indeed.

It is far more likely that one of these parties is wrong about what their voters think. Which? I think here, the Democrats are wrong: the GOP has much more to lose on this issue. The six month extension struck me a brilliant stroke by Reid et al, another sign that he’s running rings around Sen. Frist. I’m sorry to see it being reduced to a month; the only bright spot is that with the holidays, and the NSA scandal, that may not help matters for the GOP much at all.

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3 Responses to Patriot (Act) Games

  1. you’re right….the House Dems are acting like fools once again.

    The House has already voted to start its 2006 session “late” — January 19 (in an attempt to help Delay — too bad it didn’t work out). That means that the Patriot Act will have to be voted on again within four days of returning to Washington DC — not exactly a lot of time to hold hearings on this latest disclosure regarding domestic spying.

  2. Mojo says:

    Regardless of the effect on the balance between Democrats and Republicans, I’d just as soon not keep my civil rights in abeyance another six months. The one-month extension is from the end of December so that gives them a couple of weeks in the next session to figure out which provisions really contribute to our security and work out effective safeguards. I don’t really think Congress will end up doing that effectively, but I don’t think they’ll do any better job in June than in January.

  3. janinsanfran says:

    I think you are actually right in speculating that both sets are afraid of their constituents. The national gerrymander is that complete; the constituencies are that polarized.

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