First of all, if Bloody Bill Kristol is serious about the notion that Republicans are making a mistake by conflating any of these various "Obama scandals" he might want to ask Chris Wallace to go have a little chat with Neil Cavuto and tell him to simmer down.
Second, it's pretty obvious that his advice is going to fall on deaf ears, because he was promptly ignored by Lady McCheney Mary Matalin who, while sitting on the same panel with Kristol, proceeded to do just that.
And third, of course Kristol doesn't think that scooping up the data from millions of American citizens by the NSA is any big deal, but the drummed up IRS "scandal" where those poor teabaggers had to wait for a tax exempt status they never should have been granted in the first place, that is supposedly a national tragedy and a "very serious" abuse of power. Par for the course, it's upside down land over at Faux "News."
I was hoping we wouldn't see much of Matalin after she and her husband parted ways with CNN. Looks like she landed right where someone as toxic as she is belongs -- on Fox.
WALLACE: Well, Bill, as someone who I suspect thinks that these surveillance programs are a necessary part of the war on terror, do you worry that all the leaks, all the disclosures this week are going to create some sort of backlash?
BILL KRISTOL: I do, particularly because they're coming into context of genuine abuses of government power, especially by the IRS.
I think the big thing to remember is national security is different from internal management of the government. We're dealing with foreign terrorist threats here.
And, secondly, apparently this program really does require court orders to go target particular individuals or groups. You can't just then migrate through the whole database and data mine and say this looks suspicious.
You need to say this is a group in Waziristan. Let's see who they're talking to. And if they're talking to me, you then have to go back to the court and get an order for me.
That is not what the IRS did, obviously. Lois Lerner on her own decided let's target people who have Tea Party in there --
WALLACE: But you would agree that when Rand Paul says what he says about, you know, let's have specific targeting and let's not just Hoover off, vacuum up all of this information on law-abiding citizens, that certainly has at least a political appeal.
KRISTOL: Maybe. But honestly, I think the concern is Republicans are making a huge mistake. A, I think it's mischaracterizing what's happening. They're getting a lot of data because they don't want to have to go to Verizon and AT&T and everyone else each time they get a phone number.
But they're not allowed to go into that data until they have a particular warrant signed off on by a judge, with some cause to suspect a foreigner of terrorism -- that is totally different from the IRS abuses, which I think are very serious. And I think it's very important for conservatives and Republicans to make that distinction.
WALLACE: Mara, the president said on Friday he welcomes a public debate over these, but the fact is, this only came out because of these completely unauthorized leaks. He wasn't about to tell us about these programs.
MARA LIASSON: No, he wasn't. He says he wants a public debate over liberty versus security, what we're willing to give up. He says you can't be 100 percent secure, 100 percent private and 100 percent convenient. But in order for the public to have that debate, they've got to know what this is.
So I do think that, ironically, the DNI moved to declassify some of these programs so they could defend it. And that actually, I think, is healthy and good. And now the public should know what's happening and they can decide if it's worth it.
I mean, we want to know -- we want the government to know everything about the Tsarnaev brothers in advance, but we don't want anybody to look at our phone records. I don't know if those two things can exist at the same time. But we are going to have a debate now.
WALLACE: Mary, it was interesting; the president on Friday was at pains to say that he was skeptical of this program when he came into office, but that he scrubbed it and he added all kinds of safeguards to it.
Do you think that gets him over the charge that flipped on surveillance once he became commander in chief?
MARY MATALIN: Well, he flips on everything. It is political for him. It's -- when Bush is a policy, it's a false choice. When it's his policy, it's trading. It's tradeoffs. What the policy is, as General Hayden pointed out, is much stronger under this president.
And the technology has forced us into following the phones rather than the -- and the emails rather than following the people in the -- as the old system used to be.
What's -- but you cannot -- the nub of the problem here is it is the right thing to do; it is how we connect the dots. But just because it's the right thing to do does not mean it will be done right.
And what people can't see is this: what they can't see is it's conflation with the IRS, horrible, horrible abuse of private liberties and privacy.
So you can't take these things in a vacuum. And this ObamaCare and all of the rest are not just scandals, but the intrusiveness and the overreach of the government, people, of course, the public rightly attaches it to this kind of intelligence gathering.
WALLACE: You know, this is interesting, Peter, and frankly to watch what happened here in the panel because there's obviously a difference between government surveillance programs, which have been approved by Congress, that there is court buy-in on, and these scandals of the president says that he's outraged by, the IRS snooping on reporters.
You've heard our two Republican members here try to conflate the two.
Does the White House worry that the public is going to conflate the two and say well, you know, these surveillance programs and this scandal, it's all part of big government overreach?
PETER BAKER: I think it's is a concern. This is an administration for four and a half years that has stood for the idea of an activist government, whether it be ObamaCare or tighter regulation of Wall Street.
And then you add these layers of additional policies and/or scandals, and it creates a -- it detaches that broader concern that people have had about President Obama's administration from the start. What he's trying to do is distinguish between the two and, as you say, it's not easy. (Inaudible). This is something that is outrageous. This is something you should feel comfortable with and here are the reasons why. Not an easy task for any president but he's going to, I think, get out there and try to do that more.
WALLACE: Do you -- ?
KRISTOL: I'm against conflating the two, just to be clear. I am against the IRS targeting citizens exercising their utterly legitimate and important rights to associate, to advance a cause they believe in. I'm against the IRS.
I am for the National Security Agency targeting foreign terrorists. You could be for targeting foreign terrorists and against -- for -- to stop terrorism and against targeting U.S. citizens exercising their constitutional rights.
WALLACE: All right, Mary. Are you for conflating --
KRISTOL: They're never going to be conflated. I think it's serious political party must now conflate them.
MATALIN: (Inaudible) to leave you with that impression.
We're in vigorous agreement. But the consistent and cumulative dismembering of the Bill of Rights from our religious liberty, our privacy, our right to bear arms, free speech, free press, all of it, Fast and Furious, you've -- I'm not conflating them substantively.
But this is government, this administration has shown a propensity, a consistent propensity to dismember our Bill of Rights.
WALLACE: But on the surveillance side of it, that's -- he's simply continued. And you could argue, well, he's been hypocritical to do it. He is simply continuing programs he's inherited from George W. Bush.
MATALIN: That's -- we are once again in vigorous agreement. We have to have these programs to connect the dots. We have to follow people. We do not need to target American citizens unless there's some evidence of proximity to foreign terrorists. And it is a good program; it's a necessary program.
But it cannot be -- let me just quote Rush Limbaugh, my beloved. It's not like Colonel Sanders is collecting this information, OK? That's what -- you can't -- you cannot separate the politics from the policy. At least the Democrats never did when George Bush was making the policy.
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