Blowback for Bush

THE political storm over the domestic spying scandal couldn’t have come at a more inappropriate time for President Bush. This could be a body blow to the President who is already under fire over Iraq and the CIA torture flights to Europe and Middle East.

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Published: Sun 18 Dec 2005, 9:49 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:37 PM

The support for the US leader has already been steadily declining at home as the Americans watch his handling of Iraq with increasing uneasiness. No wonder the majority of Americans, who had convinced themselves that the US ‘war on terror’ around the world was inevitable and necessary, find it hard to digest the fact that their government has been watching and spying on them in the true Orwellian fashion.

The outrage has been swift and widespread. According to opinion polls, 87 per cent of the Americans have responded angrily to the spying reports. Parallels are being drawn with President Richard Nixon’s infamous Watergate scandal. The former Republican president had to walk into his sunset when he in a similar fashion tried to tackle the opposition Democrats. No wonder the Republican leadership and senators are worried and very unhappy. The Republican senators have already been losing sleep over the Iraq war fallout on next year’s crucial legislative elections. They have been urging the Bush administration to ‘bring the boys home’ before the 2006 polls. This scandal is thus seen as compounding the governing party’s troubles.

It would be interesting to see how President Bush deals with this developing crisis, easily the biggest of his second term besides Katrina. He has so far managed to fight his way out of the toughest political battles that have plagued his presidency. Right now though he finds himself in a fix. It’s bad news all around. The president’s attempts to check the growing discomfort at home over Iraq through his speech tour haven’t met with much success. No wonder he sounds tired, irritated and repetitive.

In yet another devastating blow to the administration, the Senate has refused to renew the controversial Patriot Act that had been rushed through after the September 11 attacks. Human rights groups and media in and outside US have criticised the anti-terror law as undermining civil liberties and democratic values celebrated in the US constitution. In another important development, Bush has been forced to withdraw opposition to the ban on torture, thanks to a courageous stand taken by Republican Senator John McCain. While this is a positive development for human rights and the rule of law, it betrays a considerably sobered presidency. If this is the case when Bush is still in his first year of his second term, it’s hard to see how he is going to negotiate the three daunting years that lie ahead. .

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