Weigel has the backstory of how Republicans suddenly got in touch with their rage over the TSA as soon as the Obama administration took over, calling it a ” lagging reaction to the fact that Republicans no longer have to toe the party line on homeland security.” Adam Serwer enlarges on the same theme, making this key point:
But conservatives bear a lot of blame for their current predicament. This comprehensive assault on individual freedom didn’t occur in a vacuum; it occurred because conservatives were successful in frightening Americans into choosing security over liberty every time the choice was before them, and because America’s elected officials take being blamed for a terrorist attack more seriously than their oath to protect the Constitution. While the scanners have been in development for years, their deployment was rapidly accelerated in the aftermath of last year’s attempted underwear bombing, as the TSA became even more concerned about the threat of nonmetallic objects. Conservatives must now face the Frankenstein they created by breathlessly hyping the threat of terrorism for political gain: A recent CBS poll found that 81 percent of Americans support the new machines.
That last sentence is laughably naive. Conservatives will not have to “face the Frankenstein they created” because they’ve already convinced themselves that this is all Obama’s fault. Obama’s contractually obligated defenses of the TSA don’t help, because acknowledging “frustration” doesn’t address the real anger people feel when hearing stories of bladder cancer patients who exit TSA pat-downs covered in their own urine.
Conservatives will face this Frankenstein by pushing out the TSA and hiring private contractors to do the same work, even though the contractors will have to hew to the same standards as the TSA. And, they’ll embrace the following option, proposed by Weigel as a clarifying hypothetical, with gusto:
What if we were being honest about this, and proposed this option: “The TSA will end pat-downs and let you keep your shoes on and your bottles of water intact, but it will single out every Muslim who attempts to get on a plane for special screening.”