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Update: Americans See Bush Threat & Concerns Raised About Abuse of Power

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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.

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About Mark Schannon

Retired crisis & risk manager/communications expert; extensive public relations experience in most areas over 30 years. Still available for extraordinary opportunities of mind-numbing complexity. Life-long liberal agnostic...or is that agnostic liberal.
  • gonzo marx

    heh…noicely done, Mark me boyo…

    /golfclap

    sure’n now there’s a wee bit o’ hope fer our foine Republic yet…

    maybe…

    just one, either House or Senate….going Dem…

    not cuz i like Dems, per se…

    but i like gridlock, and i REQUIRE the “checks and balances” built into a government that is supposed to serve U.S. not the other way around…

    come November, get out and vote…vote fer gridlock…vote for investigations…vote for checks and balances…

    the alternative is too hideous to Behold…

    Excelsior?

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Absofuckinlootly Mark! On another string I’d suggested that maybe the first poll was done of both houses of Congress, and maybe their secretaries and drivers.

    Good tough reporting my friend.

    One suggestion though-change the word “Absue” in your title to “abuse”… Just a suggestion…

    solus mei sententia
    Jet

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Mark,

    Look at it this way. Bush doesn’t need to care what you think about him. He is president and Clinton is making speeches for pay. Bush, if he is the dictatorial type I think he is, will use a negative result in the Congressional elections to create a different “fact” on the ground in your country.

    Exactly how he would get around congress, I’m not sure – but I am sure it is not too hard…

  • Dave Nalle

    Mark, as is hinted in your article, but not explicitly stated, it’s all about what questions people are asked.

    If you ask them if they mind having the government go through phone call records to catch terrorists they’re fine with it.

    If you tell them in the question that doing this is a violation of their rights, as in your example, then they are negative about it.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

    Dave

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Dave,

    Excellent point and I should have found the survey to find out how the questions are asked. It’s very easy to skew answers by the nature of the questions. On the other hand, Bush does so poorly in every category that one has to think there’s reality there.

    Also, I know of Princeton Research Associations and Opinion Research Corporation and they’re both highly-respected firms. I doubt they’d skew the questions. If these came out of the DNC, I’d be the first to challenge them.

    Ruvy, the article explains how he gets around Congress–something I’d vaguely known but hadn’t spent much time on.

    “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.”

    It’s pretty scarely when he can continue to get away with this.

    In Decaf Veritas…poor me.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Ah, Mark – that method and the executive orders that “enforce’ the law.

    Hey listen – stop whinig about American decaf. get on the plane, come to J-lem and I’ll get you some good kafé hafúkh – even decaf if you want it. I’ll even buy (the first cup)! You’ll never want to live in America again.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Someday, Ruvy. gotta get a job first or figure out how to retire with enough money to live. But Israel’s on our list & I would love to sip kafe hafukh with you–whatever the heck that is.

    In Decaf Veritas…even good Decaf

  • troll

    concerning signing statements – here’s Nussbaum’s 1993 take on them

    troll

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Interesting article, Troll. What a surprise the process was initiated in the Reagan administration by Meese. What’s odd is that there haven’t been any constitutional lawsuits challenging the president’s right to use of these statements.

    At the very least, it doesn’t pass the “smell” test.

    In Decaf Veritas

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Cafe Hafukh sounds vaguely obscene.

    Dave

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Hey, you’re right, Dave. I hadn’t even picked that up. Ah Fuck! Ruvy, you playin’ games with me?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Like I’ve told you elsewhere, Mark, knowing the language of your ancestors will not hurt you. Kafé hafúkh is kaffee mit schlag, and the Hebrew name refers to how it is made – by pouring in the milk in first and then the coffee.

    Mr. Nalle, I’m ashamed at you for pulling Mark’s leg like that! Didn’t you know that all the curse words in Hebrew come from Arabic? Well, they used to, anyway…

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Dave, you bad person you. But what if you drink your coffee black?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Mark, if you want to drink your coffee black, drink botz – mud – the name the boys in Tzaha”l use for Turkish/Greek coffee. Bar mitzvah Hebrew does not get you far in the real world…

  • Bliffle

    “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.”

    Amazing! When did we amend the Constitution to allow the pres to selectively enforce laws?

  • Brandon

    No one supports Bush, everyone hates Bush, We all want back Clinton, is that a synopsis of the article. Well if all those are true I’ve got a few questions that I truthfully don’t understand

    1) Why has Bush still not been impeached?

    2) What has he done that other politicians, both Dem and GOP, have not or would not have done in his shoes?

    3) Why is Clinton so misunderstood now that there’s another President in office?

    4) Would America trully be better off with a librel like John Kerry in office?

  • MCH

    “1) Why has Bush still not been impeached?”

    Because there’s not a lady brave enough to give him a blow job.

  • Alethinos

    Just because a guy doesn’t like Bush means he wants Clinton. The latter was a lot smarter and had great personal skills but was a moral twit. Of course the Republicans, themselves quilty of being moral twits – but adding a slathering of major hypocrisy to everything.

    What is revolting to Americans and I think maybe, JUST maybe they’re finally waking up to this is that while BOTH PARTIES are decrepit, the Republicans, over the past quarter century have become INCREASINGLY bold each time they seize the White House in how fast and deeply they can raid the cookie jar.

    With the Bush Administration it seems that they are virtually announcing to ANYONE with an ounce of brains – ATTENTION! ATTENTION! WE’RE GOING TO BE SCREWING YOU OVER AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE! IF YOU’LL ALL JUST STEP OVER HERE… THAT’S IT! UP AGAINST THE WALL…

    Never have I noted both government and Big Biz so blatantly “in your face” about breaking laws, utter greed and rolling over the little guy.

    And we seem to be finally waking up to it after six years…

    Alethinos

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Bliffle, read the article troll linked to. It appears that while Bush’s behavior is questionable, it may not be illegal since there’s never been a court challenge. (#8 & 9)

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    Brandon,

    MCH (17) has one answer & I’m still laughing.

    First of all, you can be a lousy President and not get impeached. The American people don’t like the job he’s doing. I’m just the happy messenger.

    As to your #3, a prez can only serve two terms, remember?

    As to 4, America would be better off with a chipmunk at this point.

    Alethinos, I hope you’re right that Americans are finally waking up. The Dems ain’t much better than the Reps these days. We’re entering a dark tunnel, destination unknown, wait, there’s a signpost up ahead: The Twilight Zone.

    And, Ruvy, what Bar Mitzvah Hebrew. Those conservative idiot rabbis never taught us Hebrew, they taught us sounds to make. I did my whole thing acting more like a trained parrot than a Jew. I had no idea what I was saying. The real crime is that my parents never taught me Yiddish. Now there’s a great language.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Brandon, re: “4) Would America trully be better off with a librel like John Kerry in office?”

    If you can’t even SPELL “liberal,” it’s not much of an insult. And yes, I do think they’d “trully” be better off.