For the last four years, conservative columnists have been scratching their heads, wondering what it would take to get the so-called elite media to sit up and take notice of President Obama’s penchant for seizing powers not granted to him under the Constitution. The answer, as it turns out, was an offense so egregious that it caused Joe Biden to bellyache to CBS News:
I don’t have to listen to your phone calls to know what you’re doing. If I’m able to determine every phone call you made — [if] I’m able to able to determine every single person you talked to — I’m able to get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. And the real question here is what do they do with this information that they collect that does not have anything to do with al Qaeda? And we’re gonna trust the President and the Vice President of the United States to do the right thing? Don’t count me in on that.
Of course that was in 2006. Biden was still a U.S. Senator at the time, and the object of his pique was then-President George W. Bush.
Fast-forward to now and to a whole new round of allegations of snooping, this time leveled at an administration in which Biden himself is the number 2 executive, and you have a whole different game. You have the White House press secretary dancing as fast as he can to put a happy face on the burgeoning NSA scandal and the revelation that the administration has targeted reporters.
You also have the long-awaited outage from once-unlikely complainants such as The New York Times.
The latest MSM former water carrier to unload on the administration is The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, who acknowledges in a column today that Obama surveillance revelations are pushing liberals over the edge — her included. Her words actually come close to cutting the Bush administration some slack:
For liberals who accused the administration of George W. Bush of insufficient transparency, expansion of executive power, and disregarding constitutional protections, Obama’s policies — and the contrast with his campaign rhetoric — have long grated.
Ball quotes Zaid Jilani of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee as saying that many on the left were willing to turn a blind eye on Obama’s shenanigans, but that the NSA revelations were the last straw:
‘If you go back and look at candidate Obama’s statements about whistleblowers and civil liberties, breaches of freedom and privacy under the past administration, you’d have a hard time saying Candidate Obama would agree with President Obama on this,’ Jilani said. ‘Within six hours of the whistleblower being outed, they were already talking about a criminal probe. They weren’t talking about any internal investigation of the NSA’s conduct or abuses of the Patriot Act.’
The left, Ball acknowledges, is not unified in its outrage, and that includes some members of Congress. But the NSA scandal is still new. Its potential to damage careers has yet to be fully assessed. On the other hand, old habits die hard and there is no guarantee that the liberal media won’t revert to their natural hyperpartisanship.
Only time will tell.
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