- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Unconstitutional treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo!

Spying on innocent Americans’ bank transactions and phone records!

Heartless toward immigrants!

Democrats are sure they have Republicans cornered and reeling heading into this fall’s elections, but Republicans are overjoyed by the campaign, believing that it simply reinforces their own message of being tough on terrorism and illegal aliens.

Don Stewart, spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, calls the issues “briar-patch politics,” as in Br’er Rabbit’s cunning plea to Br’er Fox: “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch.”

“If they want to attack us for being too tough on terrorists and strong on border security, then let them,” he said. “We’ll see ‘em on November 7th.”

After last week’s Hamdan v. Rumsfeld verdict, in which the Supreme Court ruled that President Bush had overstepped his constitutional powers by trying enemy combatants by military tribunals — instead of traditional civilian courts — Democrats were elated.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision reaffirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced in a prepared statement. “This is a triumph for the rule of law. … We cannot allow the values on which our country was founded to become a casualty in the war on terrorism.”

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner’s office immediately issued a press release of its own — containing Mrs. Pelosi’s statement in full.

“Al Qaeda, whose terrorist thugs are not a party to, nor bound by, the Geneva Conventions, is surely pleased at the show of support from Capitol Hill Democrats,” added the Republican statement, arguing that granting Geneva Convention status to al Qaeda amounts to “special privileges” for terrorists. “There is a clear choice between Capitol Hill Democrats who celebrate offering special privileges to violent terrorists, and Republicans who want the president to have the necessary tools to prosecute and achieve victory in the global war on terror.”

On the news last week that USA Today could not verify that all the telephone companies it reported had turned over phone records to the government, liberals were quick to point to the larger principle behind their argument — that it still amounted to the federal government spying on the business dealings of innocent Americans.

Undeterred, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, told USA Today, “It would probably be better [for the government] to have records of every phone company.”

It’s a view that many congressional Republicans hold, but Christy Setzer, communications director for the Democrat group Senate Majority Project, said it was the “outrageous GOP Senate quote of the day” for suggesting the that surveillance program doesn’t go far enough.

“On the birthday of our nation, it would be nice if Senator Chambliss showed some respect for our 219-year-old Constitution,” she said. “Not many Americans like the idea of government trolling through their phone records, nor would they think what we really need is to expand government intrusion.”

Kevin Madden, spokesman for Mr. Boehner, said that in terms of fighting terrorism and ending illegal immigration, Democrats criticize without offering any solutions.

“It just goes to show that Democrats don’t have positions on any of the big issues,” he said. “They have no coherent solutions.”

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