Stepping Out of Line


Salon's Walter Shapiro profiles John Sununu of New Hampshire, one of four Republican senators to break with the president on the Patriot Act. At the end of the article, Shapiro observes a fact that isn't acknowledged as often as it should be among civil libertarians of the left:

It is tempting to use party labels (augmented by descriptive adjectives like "moderate" and "maverick") as a shorthand for the white hats and black hats of American politics. But the divisions over the Patriot Act illustrate the limitations of such a lazy typology. The Republican senators loudly opposing a no-questions-asked extension of the Patriot Act are not celebrated naysayers like John McCain nor the always-on-the-fence New England moderates (Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee). Instead, it is Sununu and the libertarians on the right who are standing firm.

And speaking of civil liberties and internecine warfare: There's a fascinating piece in the current Newsweek about the battles within the bureaucracy over Bush's efforts to extend presidential powers. I wish I knew more about where the details of the story came from, but even with that caveat I highly recommend the article.