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Security Politics

More on the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll: "Support also rose for Bush's and the Republican Party's positions on the Iraq war and the economy... Republicans also narrowed the gap with Democrats on which party better represents Americans' values." But: "Voters continue to view Democrats as the party that can better handle the major problems facing the nation and favor them on issues such as immigration, taxes and the budget deficit." 

Polling partner the Los Angeles Times says, "The survey spotlights a continuing array of Republican vulnerabilities, but it also offers the first evidence in months that the GOP may be gaining momentum before November's battle for control of Congress."

But then there's that New York Times/CBS poll, which finds that just 25% approve of the job the GOP-controlled Congress is doing. And 39% say their own representative deserved re-election, while 48% say it's time for someone new. "The disdain for Congress is as intense as it has been since 1994… It underlines the challenge the Republican Party faces in trying to hold on to power in the face of a surge in anti-incumbent sentiment." That said, the poll also shows that only 38% believe Democrats have a clear plan for how they would run the country, versus 45% who believe Republicans have a clear plan.

A Washington Post analysis notes how the "timing of Bush's address on democracy to the U.N. General Assembly and the overthrow of a democratically elected government" in Thailand "underlined the complexities and contradictions in his 'freedom agenda.' With the president's attention focused on the Middle East, the state of democracy elsewhere in the world does not rate as high on his priority list." 

The Financial Times reports, "The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme. The former officials said the CIA interrogators' refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished" -- i.e., that election-year politics were not the driving reason for Bush's announcement. 

The New York Times says that lost in the debate over whether to redefine the Geneva Conventions are measures that would "strip federal courts of their authority to review the detentions of almost all terrorism suspects. Both the legislation introduced on behalf of the administration and the competing bill sponsored by a group of largely Republican opponents in the Senate include a provision that would bar foreigners held abroad from using the federal trial courts for challenges to detention known as habeas corpus lawsuits. If the provision was enacted, it would mean that all of the lawsuits brought in federal court by about 430 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would be wiped from the books."

After his speech yesterday on energy independence, which was sponsored by the liberal group MoveOn, Sen. Barack Obama (D) told reporters that Bush's track record on terrorism is not unblemished and Democrats should not shy away from that fact. "Why we only focus on national security three months before every election doesn't make much sense to me. But then again, the President has the megaphone," he said. If Democrats become the majority party, Obama added that security would still be a top priority, but they would invest in building more alliances. "We would focus more of winning the hearts and minds and not assuming that military force will solve all of our problems," he said.