After Terror, Watching The Pendulum Swing Between Security and Privacy

by CHUCK TODD, MARK MURRAY AND CARRIE DANN  |  published on January 8, 2015

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If there’s an American political link to yesterday’s attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, it’s this: Every time there is well-publicized terrorist violence, the political pendulum usually swings from privacy to security. We saw this in our NBC/WSJ poll after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when a majority of Americans (55%) said they were more worried that the government wouldn’t go far enough to monitor the activities of potential terrorists, versus a minority (31%) who were more concerned that the government would go too far and violate privacy rights. Then in summer of 2013 — at the height of the Edward Snowden disclosures — the pendulum had swung the other way, with a majority (56%) saying they were more worried about the government violating privacy rights, according to our July 2013 poll. But after the rise of ISIS and especially its beheadings, the pendulum appeared to swing back, with 61% of Americans saying that taking action against ISIS was in the United States’ interest, per our Sept. 2014 poll. It’s hard to predict the future, especially a 2016 presidential contest almost two years from now. But it’s very easy to see how a pro-security sentiment puts pressure, say, on a Rand Paul, while a pro-privacy sentiment complicates things for a Hillary Clinton or the Bush family.

McConnell — two days into his Senate majority — takes credit for the improving economy?

In his statement yesterday outlining his goals for the 114th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this: “After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope; the uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress. So this is precisely the right time to advance a positive, pro-growth agenda.” So after years of making President Obama and Democrats own the state of the economy, McConnell is now taking credit for the improving — two days into his new job? And based on the expectation that the GOP was going to take over the Senate? If anything, this is a reminder that the Republican Party realizes that — if the economy continues to get better and better — they can’t allow Obama to get all of the credit. Oh, and we get a new monthly jobs report tomorrow…

Obama to deliver remarks on the improving housing sector at 12:45 pm ET

Speaking of the economy, Obama today is on the second leg of his three-day tour touting the economy and previewing his State of the Union message. Today’s stop: Phoenix, where he will talk about the improving housing sector at 12:45 pm ET. Be sure not to miss this dispatch from NBC’s Perry Bacon: “Key voices in both parties [Jeb Bush and Elizabeth Warren] are rejecting the optimistic way President Barack Obama is describing the current state of the American economy, illustrating an important divide that could impact both the president’s last two years in office and the 2016 campaign.”

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