You know something is up when conservative op-ed commentators and politicians begin to sound, well, liberal.
In an earlier post, I quoted John Danforth’s denounciation of “Terri-gate” as proto-theocracy. Then there was the recent (and lame) op-ed by David Brooks lightly criticizing the extremist tendencies of Tom DeLay. Lucky for us, Brooks says, the “American People” are actually too conservative to support the revenge-mongering of DeLay and other right-wingers when it comes to the judiciary. Whew! That’s a relief. For a minute I thought all those polls on Terri-gate meant that the “American People” had been doing some thinking of late and figured something out. Luckily they’re just “dispositionally conservative.” In other words, they’re not really thinking about it too much, just reacting from “the gut.” Brooks meekly looks forward to the day when Dennis Hasstert recovers from surgery and can return a more boring face of leadership to the party (although the policies will of course remain the same).
But today we get none other than William Safire bringing us the alarm-bell-ringing lead review in the NYT Book Review. “Goodbye to Privacy” reviews two new books computer security and personal information privacy in the post 9-11 era. Of the two books review, Safire recommends Robert O’Harrow’s No Place to Hide: Behind the Scenes of our Emerging Surveillance Society (link to Powell’s Books), which details the frightening relationships between the hugely profitable private “data mining” industry and the post 9-11 U.S. National Security State. Although I knew most of this before reading the review, it was a little striking to read quotes from corporate types saying “We have created a unique identifier on everybody in the United States. Data that belongs together is already linked together.”
Of course, plenty of so-called liberals have made their money on this data mining business (and it is the basis of modern marketing), it has been the Bush administration that has aggressively pursued the relationship between ultra-secret “intelligence” agencies and private industry. Message to Mr. Safire: in case you missed the last 35 years or so, you are partly responsible for creating this monster through your partisan hackery.
Anyway as I started saying: something is definitely up when conservatives run to the rescue of small-“l” liberalism. When you see the first star at night, make this wish: please may the Republican party coalition collapse upon its own internal contradictions. Given that the Democrats are M.I.A., wishing upon a star is probably our most effective course of action.