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After Terror, Watching The Pendulum Swing Between Security and Privacy

Every time there is well-publicized terrorist violence, the political pendulum usually swings from privacy to security
Image: A police officer patrols outside the U.S. embassy in London
A police officer patrols outside the U.S. embassy in London December 9, 2014. The Senate Intelligence Committee prepared to release a report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics on Tuesday and U.S. officials moved to shore up security at American facilities around the world as a precaution. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY CRIME LAW)LUKE MACGREGOR / Reuters

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.”

Walker staffs up and has a pitch to make to GOP voters

NBC News has confirmed the news first reported by CNN that former RNC Political Director Rick Wiley is joining Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s team -- a possible sign of the governor’s 2016 intentions. Here is one thing to note about Walker: He has a potentially good pitch to make GOP voters. Walker can bill himself as the party’s 21st century reformer. And that would be an the explicit comparison to Jeb Bush who is the party’s late 20th century reformer. By the way, if Jeb is the 20th century GOP reformer in the field, where is there room for the party’s other 20th century reformer -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich? Yes, Kasich is a current governor here in 2015, but the reputation he earned as a reformer was during his Hill days in the 1990s. We wrote on Wednesday that the biggest GOP casualty from all of Jeb Bush’s maneuvers is Mitt Romney (who was huddling with advisers yesterday, per the Washington Post). But another casualty is Kasich, who was making a “compassionate conservative” play.

Jeb set to release his tax returns

Speaking of Jeb, Politico reports that he is “prepared to make an early disclosure of a decade or more of personal tax returns, according to people close to the former Florida governor.” Such a disclosure – when it occurs – would distance Bush from Mitt Romney. But it also would put pressure on Hillary Clinton to do the same. More from Politico: “[T]he effort to be transparent about his finances is also meant to contrast with Hillary Clinton, the favorite for the Democratic nomination. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, amassed tens of millions of dollars over the last 14 years. Republicans are expected to press for disclosure of extensive tax return information.” Jeb Bush is also making the calculation that as much money as he has made out of office, it will pale in comparison with the Clintons.

More potentially bad 2016 news for Christie

If you want to know why many political observers aren’t buying stock in a possible 2016 candidacy by Chris Christie, it’s news like this. “Federal prosecutors in New Jersey have subpoenaed Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign for documents relating to government meetings that were allegedly canceled with Jersey City’s mayor after he declined to endorse the governor, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The subpoenas, sent by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, are another sign that the yearlong probe into former allies of Mr. Christie has broadened beyond matters directly related to the George Washington Bridge lane closures.” And don’t forget what WNBC reported a month ago: At least half a dozen potential indictments associated with the Bridge-gate scandal could be coming as soon as this month.

Also on our 2016 radar

At 7:00 pm ET, Democrat Martin O’Malley addresses the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics on "Progressive Politics in a Post-Obama World."

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