The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government's terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.
The 60 to 28 vote, which was quickly denounced by civil rights and privacy advocates, came after Democrats in the House failed to win support for more modest changes that would have required closer court supervision of government surveillance. Earlier in the day, President Bush threatened to hold Congress in session into its scheduled summer recess if it did not approve the changes he wanted.
Anyone who believed that September was going to be a magic drop dead date for the president's war strategy should take a lesson from this. Congress believes it is subservient to George Bush. He will continue to treat them with utter contempt until they give him a reason to take them seriously.
Prepare to see Congress's approval numbers drop dramatically again, as voters who elected Democrats to serve as a check on this president, realize that the rubber stamp Congress just changed leadership.
Update - the political consequences are summarized best here:
The Democrats have seriously alienated a significant portion of their base and they will not replace those voters with the Fox News viewers they sought to appease. It's not easy to win an argument (if it's possible at all) against people who claim there's no difference between the parties. Right now, the results are the same as they were seven months ago.