John Mica (R-FL), the incoming chair of the House Transportation Committee, has reduced himself to begging the public against Opt-Out Day.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) urged airline passengers Sunday to not purposefully slow down airport security lines by refusing to go through body scanners.

Likely the next House Transportation Committee chairman, Mica said he could not support what has become known as National “Opt-Out” Day. During the busy Thanksgiving travel period, passengers may opt-out of the body scanners, which take naked body images, and instead choose to go under invasive pat-downs as an act of protest. That will then likely slow down security lines.

“I think the public needs to work with us. We will get it right,” Mica said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’m not going to support that but we need to get it right and we will.”

Mica stepped up his criticism against John Pistole, the TSA Administrator, but he became one of the first prominent Republicans to basically take the side of the security state against the public. By contrast, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), current chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, called on Pistole to reconsider the abusive pat-down procedures.

Now, Mica’s long-term goal is to get the TSA out of the transportation screening business. He wants to leverage public anger against “gate-rape” (h/t Marcy) to basically privatize the operation. I haven’t met anyone who thinks that would lead to a kinder and gentler security procedure, however. Mica and his cadres don’t really want to end the security state – they want to profit from it. Some of the civil libertarians in their midst may have different ideas, but when push comes to shove, their principles are being used by establishment Republicans to 1) hurt President Obama’s TSA and 2) legislate it out of existence, with private security taking over at airports.

Pistole has dug in, and he’s saying he won’t change the procedures. The executive branch has basically backed him up. But Mica’s plea to end Opt Out Day has been the first misstep on the part of Republicans, who up until now have played this pretty well. Democrats were slow to criticize the TSA procedures and some continue to defend them. But this has started to move into an establishment-grassroots fight rather than a right-left one.

By the way, Nick Baumann’s story on five more intelligent security procedures that airports could use in the post-”Don’t touch my junk” era is well worth reading.