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The F Word: A Bright Bipartisan Future on Civil Liberties?

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Lately, when the term “bipartisan compromise” is tossed around, it tends to mean that Democrats are giving in to the Republican position on issues, or that women's rights are being sacrificed to some larger purpose.

But there was bipartisanship of a different sort this week in the House, when civil libertarians on the left and the right of each party joined together to defeat some particularly controversial portions of the PATRIOT Act.

26 Republicans, including 8 new Tea Party members, voted with some Democrats to stop fast-track passage, extending things like Roving wiretaps, the “lone wolf” surveillance provision, and the “library records” power.... At least temporarily.

Was it a Tea Party revolt? Not exactly....

First off, John Boehner brought the extension to a vote under fast-track, which allows no debate or amendments but does require a two-thirds majority. So a relatively small number of “no” votes were able to temporarily stop passage.

Also, most of Michele Bachmann's 52-member Tea Party caucus actually did vote for big government's ability to see your library books and tap your phones.

Tea Party rhetoric notwithstanding, authoritarians on both sides of the political divide seemed more than happy to make nice to big brother, especially as they settle into government themselves.

But it does show that at least a few of the Tea Party conservatives do mean what they say when they claim libertarian values. It also shows that not all of them do, which could be trouble down the line for the Republicans.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on Facebook.