Ross Douthat, an Atlantic alumnus, contends in the NY Times that the recent controversy over "enhanced" TSA procedures illustrates the dominance of partisan reflex in today's politics. Liberals complained about excessive state power when Bush and Cheney were in charge -- but now they're happy, and it's conservatives up in arms about the excesses of Obama, Biden, and 'Big Sis.' EG:
>>But people who follow politics closely -- whether voters, activists or pundits -- are often partisans first and ideologues second. Instead of assessing every policy on the merits, we tend to reverse-engineer the arguments required to justify whatever our own side happens to be doing.<<
Sounds sensible, even-handed, and fairmindedly tut-tutting to all sides. But as it applies to the real world?
The TSA case, on which Douthat builds his column, is in fact quite a poor illustration -- rather, a good illustration for a different point. There are many instances of the partisan dynamic working in one direction here. That is, conservatives and Republicans who had no problem with strong-arm security measures back in the Bush 43 days but are upset now. Charles Krauthammer is the classic example: forthrightly defending torture as, in limited circumstances, a necessary tool against terrorism, yet now outraged about "touching my junk" as a symbol of the intrusive state.