Wednesday, February 8, 2006

NSA Spying, Heather Wilson, and the Clipping of Karl

Representative Heather A. Wilson (R-NM), who chairs the House subcommittee that overseas the NSA and to whom this post refers, has called for Congressional hearings on the NSA spying fiasco. Exactly what she's up to is still a little cloudy, but here are a few different pieces you can play with to see what you come up with:

1. In the past, Wilson has struck me as a typical rightie House wingnut. For example, she's the one who broke into tears when Janet Jackson's Superbowl halftime show wardrobe malfunction" exposed a nipple to millions of previously-undefiled young eyes. ("The children!", Wilson sobbed at the time. I must be a bad parent: my kids saw their first nipple within minutes of being born.) So she wouldn't have been my odds-on favorite to stand up to the Bush White House. On the other hand, she may be a perfectly sincere wingnut, one of those who actually cares about the Bible and the Constitution both. I can work with that kind. I'm not to judge.

2. Wilson's seat is not safe. She initially won her seat by a plurality, with a Democrat and a Green splitting the majority, and she's never won reelection by a significant margin. In 2004, she won by a mere 4% margin against an unremarkable opponent. This year, she's up against a strong candidate, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who's giving her a run for her money. And her voter base isn't solid conservative: Kerry won this district in '04, and her disapproval rating, before the election season really even begins, is 47%. She's outraising her opponent so far, but not by as large a margin as she did last election. So she has to be sniffing the wind. Perhaps the best news about her position on NSA spying is simply this: that conservative Republicans in close races are starting to run away, instead of toward, the President. (Now if only we can get the Democrats to do the same...) More info here.

3. Evidence of that last point: Bush, apparently realizing that he's not in the driver's seat as Rove's strategy assumed, is falling all over himself (at least publicly) to kiss
Wilson's keister
. In other words: Rove threatened, threat fell flat, Bush begs. Sweet. (Thanks to Think Progress.)

4. I'm not sure how exactly this works, but no less a brilliant and objective mind than Bob Novak (/snark) thinks that Dem NM Governor Bill Richardson's Presidential aspirations hinge partly on whether Madrid or Wilson wins this seat, I suppose because it is a belwether of political sentiment among moderates and independents in that state:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's stock for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination may rise or fall depending on whether Republican Rep. Heather Wilson keeps her seat representing the New Mexico congressional district that includes Albuquerque.

Wilson is a principal target of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Her opponent is state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who appears to have the financing to wage a strong race against Wilson.

What does this mean to us? As I see it, three things:

1. Wilson has given political cover to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans who want to investigate the spying scandal but don't have the guts to go first. Now that she's moved, we need to make the momentum unstoppable.

2. Wilson's defection proves that the NSA spying scandal has political, and electoral, legs. Here's a key, belwether race in which both sides are vying to be on the side of the angels and against the White House. That's great good news, and is a message we need to be carrying to the members of our party early and often.

3. Do whatever you think is right with your money, but it's a good idea to reinforce with both candidates in the New Mexico race that we consider the NSA investigation to be a top priority.

Where do we go from here> I am working on a NSA Spying Game Plan, with complete contact info and position analyses for the key players. It's taking some time, and (crazy as it sounds) I actually have some non-virtual responsibilities (work, family, that stuff), but I hope to have it up in the next day or two. I appreciate your patience.

Thanks to DWD-Challenged, ina and others over at Eschaton for much of this info.

SUPPLEMENT: Great post on these issues, with lots to link to and chew on, over at FireDogLake.

SUPPLEMENT 2: Congresswoman Wilson issued a statement today about the NSA surveillance program. I discuss it at more length here.

SUPPLEMENT 3 I just couldn't resist: audio of part of Rep. Wilson's floor speech about Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfuntion." It's not that bad, actually, even though I personally didn't get all weepy over it in a public forum.


Christopher said...

Rep. Wilson sobbed over Janet's 'nip-slip?'


Has she sobbed over the needless deaths 2,261 American soldiers in Iraq?

Or the 15,000 Americans returning from Iraq injured?

Just saying....

ina said...

Thanks for sorting some of this stuff out. It's hard to keep my conspiracy-theorist antennae from buzzing wildly. My friend assures me that I give Rove, et al, way too much credit for being able to intelligently plan anything, but I worry that we just keep playing into their hands...

Anonymous said...

I worry that we just keep playing into their hands...

It's easy to get overworried about that. I try to remember the Taoist/Zen aphorism: everything contains the seed of its opposite. (That's why there's that little dot of the opposite color in each half of the yin-yang symbol)

So the current cryptofascist movement contains the seeds of its own destruction. They do make mistakes. What we need is to be smart enough not to fall for "head fakes" but still agile and tough enough to seize on the other side's errors when they occur.

Such as, here, seizing on Wilson's decision to side with the Constitution, and running with it!