How Far Will Bush Supporters Go?

Glenn Greenwald has a fantastic post that deals with a subject I've been thinking a lot about lately. Namely, how far will Bush supporters go in their allegiance to him? How far will they follow Bush and Cheney down the road to absolute executive power?

Greenwald writes, "Virtually no serious Bush defenders claim any longer that the Administration's warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens was authorized by FISA. To the contrary, FISA expressly prohibited such surveillance. Thus, to defend George Bush they must literally claim that the President has the right during "wartime" to violate Congressional statutes which relate to national security."

He goes on to look at the consequences of such unchecked power and concludes with the unavoidable question: “If a theory of limitless Executive power is not what Bush defenders are advocating, then it is incumbent upon them to articulate what limitations they believe exist on Presidential power in times of undeclared war. What is it that courts or Congress can do, if anything, to serve as a check on these powers?”

Giving allowance to partisan loyalty, ideology and the natural tendency to stick up for “their guy,” one still has to wonder if there’s ANY limit to this blind support for Bush. The obvious thing to do, then, is to ask if there’s been any occasion where Bush's supporters have substantively and publicly differed with him. And the first situation that comes to mind is the Harriet Miers nomination.

But what’s scary about this signature defection by his hardcore supporters is that they excoriated him not for going too far, but for not going far enough.

So perhaps the domestic spying scandal is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Not by a long shot -- even though it would be logical to assume so. Setting aside the legal intricacies and the abstruse arguments being made by Bush’s legal apologists in support of his actions, two questions about this story should trouble all Americans:

1. If the current law wasn’t adequate to protect us, why not try to change it rather than circumvent it?
2. Why go around claiming you were using FISA when you weren’t? (Thursday’s Hardball had a series of clips showing Bush flatly stating that FISA was being strictly adhered to when it obviously wasn't.)

Circumventing the law on a matter of national security (for whatever allegedly noble purpose) and lying about it are grave matters. But don’t hold your breath waiting for mass defections; the vast majority of Bush’s blog supporters, rightwing pundits, and Republican surrogates are out there standing up for Bush, attacking those who question the constitutionality of his actions.

As this story takes its expected course, it appears there’s a simple - albeit jarring - answer to the question of how far Bush’s supporters will go: they’ll go as far as he wants them to. And we’re beginning to see how far that is.