Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The Spin Cycle
Two recent polls on NSA spying seem to give drastically different results. In a poll done for the Washington Post, 63% supported the NSA program; in one done for Newsweek, 53% say it goes too far in invading privacy.
These apparently contradictory results can be explained by the different wording used by the polls. Look at the questions asked by Richard Morin, who, as Jane Hamsher notes, has a substantial history as a GOP spinner:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling protecting Americans' privacy rights as the government investigates terrorism?
As it conducts the war on terrorism, do you think the United States government is or is not doing enough to protect the rights of American citizens?
What do you think is more important right now - (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?
It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
In every question, the word "terrorist" or "terrorism" show up, even more than once. That wording was carefully designed to elicit the answers Morin got. By comparison, the Newsweek poll, which only asked 2 questions about the NSA program, used the word "terrorism" only once.
THe moral is that if you're trying to spin in favor of expanded federal power and decreased freedom, scare people by talking constantly about terrorism. Listen to the Bush spinners and you'll notice immediately that they know this. Democrats should talk in terms of the rule of law. We should also make this an apple pie issue - assert repeatedly (and correctly) that we're defending traditional American values.