A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken the day after news was released of the massive NSA collection of American telephone records showed a majority of Americans supporting the effort.
However, a Newsweek web exclusive posted Saturday, May 13th paints a different picture. In a poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International of 1,007 adults aged 18 and older between May 11 and 12 by telephone found very different results. A majority of Americans (53 percent) think the NSA’s program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41% believe it’s necessary to fight terrorism.
An AP analysis issued late this afternoon asked the question, “Is Bush Overreaching?”
Newsweek asks the question, “Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism?” Despite assurances from the president that American’s rights are “fiercely protected,” and that “we’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans,” 57 percent of Americans aren’t buying it, agreeing that administration has “gone too far in expanding presidential power.” Thirty-eight percent think the Administration’s actions are appropriate.
The poll also found that Bush’s popularity continues to linger at the lowest in his presidency, at 35 percent, with Iraq being his biggest problem: 86 percent said Iraq and information revealing the way in which the decision was made to go to war account for most of their low opinion of the president.
In virtually every area, Bush fairs poorly.
- Rising gas prices: 17 percent approve.
- Federal budget deficit: 19 percent approve.
- Immigration policy: 25 percent approve.
- Handling of taxes: 39 percent approve.
- State of the Country: 71 percent are dissatisfied.
- The New Congress: 52 percent want to see Democrats in control vs. 35 percent for Republicans.
- Presidential Race: Half want a Democrat while only 31 percent want a Republican.
- Who can better bring about the changes the country needs: Democrats over Republicans by 53 to 30 percent.
The AP story notes, “President Bush has made broad use of his executive powers: authorizing warrantless wiretaps, collecting telephone records on millions of Americans, holding suspected terrorists overseas without legal protections. His administration even is considering using the military to patrol the U.S. border.”
Bush has consistently told Congress that he will ignore legislation if he thinks it will “interfere with his constitutional authority.” The technique he’s perfected is to issue hundreds of statements when signing bills into law that claiming that he has the right to ignore provisions of the bill he feels interferes with his presidential powers. Because he has not vetoed any bill sent to him, Congress has had no way to challenge these statements where they can be resolved in the courts.
This technique is how he has ignored laws requiring him to give reports to Congress about how the Patriot Act is being implemented and about a ban on torture.
A number of political analysts have expressed grave concern about his actions.
“The president apparently believes, based on a number of recent statements and policy directives, that anything he approves is automatically legal,” said Stephen Cimbala, a Pennsylvania State University professor who studies national security issues.
“I do think the president has pushed the envelope,” said Georgetown University political scientist Stephen J. Wayne. “He seems so determined for another act of terrorism not to occur on his watch that he has forgotten the constitutional protections that most Americans value as highly as they value their security.”
As if things weren’t looking bleak enough for the president, it turns out that, by a wide margin, Americans think better of former President Bill Clinton than they do of him. A poll of 1021 adult Americans conducted May 5-7 by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN found that Bush didn’t win in a single category: Handling the economy, Clinton beat Bush by a 2 to 1 margin (63 vs. 26 percent); solving the problems of ordinary Americans went to Clinton 62 to 25 percent; foreign affairs, Clinton 56 percent vs. Bush at 32 percent; taxes, Clinton 51 vs. 35 percent; handling national disasters, 51 Clinton, 30 percent Bush; who has divided the country more went to Bush with 59 percent vs. Clinton’s 27 percent.
Bush can take heart that he and Clinton were statistically tied on two issues: honesty and handling national security.
There seemed to be no good news for the president today.