Prepping for NOW! with Alex Wagner on MSNBC at noon (whoops…I shouldn’t use exclamation points because I’m on the Acela’s quiet car…shhhhh).
–please, politicians: we beg you to stop falling over each other to tell us how much you want to have this debate. We’re only having it because of a phat leak and we’re not even really having it because of the secretive nature of the information.
–if we did have such a national discussion, and we should, it would explain what the President means when he very correctly points out we can’t have 100% privacy and 100% safety. It would either answer these questions posed by the NYT ed board…
Are the calls and texts of ordinary Americans mined for patterns that might put innocent people under suspicion? Why is data from every phone call collected, and not just those made by people whom the government suspects of terrorist activity? How long is the data kept, and can it be used for routine police investigations? Why was a private contractor like Edward Snowden allowed to have access to it? So far, no one at the White House seems interested in a substantive public debate.
…or explain why such questions must go unanswered.
According to a poll out this AM (in the WaPo) almost twice as many people (62%) think it’s more important right now for the government to investigate terrorists threats than to not intrude on personal privacy (34%). So I’d say many of us are ready to listen with a sympathetic ear. But the minds attached to those ears will be a lot less open if public officials continue to avoid either the necessary revelations as per the questions above or frank explanations of why they cannot answer them.
We’re also slated to discuss immigration reform. Jon Chait argues that the legislative prospects for a bill are a lot better than you might think. OTEers know that I basically agree, based on one number: 27% (Romney’s share of the Latino vote).
That said, as Chait intimates, the question of whether comprehensive reform passes probably comes down to one question: is John Boehner willing to violate the Hastert rule? That’s the rule that says the majority will only allow those bills to come to the floor than can pass with majority support.
The other thing to watch here is the path to citizenship. From here on in, that path becomes more like a Navy Seal obstacle course on the Island of Horror. Advocates may well need to ask themselves whether any bill is better than no bill.