Along the Tracks

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Democratic strategy: Throw the bomb

When faced with an immensely popular president and a Republican party found singularly trustworthy on anti-terror and defense issues, what is a Democrat to do?
Well, the Democrat could develop aggressive anti-terror strategies of his or her own - but such a course is as mythical as the Democrat who might consider it.
No, the Democrat in question goes back to the tried-and-true playbook and throws the bomb.
Pardon the pun, but not very much. For what the Democrats have chosen as their strategy of choice in the terrorism debate is to harshly criticize President Bush for “not doing enough” to fight terrorism - no new ideas, no specifics, no solutions, just carping. This is a purely political gamble, a “Hail Osama” for the endzone: The only way the Democrats “score” in this political game is for America’s defenses to fail. A successful terror attack on American soil becomes not just a tragedy, but a political touchdown.
And the great thing about this new Democratic line is it can be repeated forever. After all, that next attack might be just around the corner.
Impossible, you say - no self-respecting American patriot would ever do such a thing. Well, here’s what a Democratic insider told the New York Times:
“In a reflection of these difficult times, aides to the contenders said they were planning their campaigns with the assumption that another terrorist attack could happen at any moment and discreetly trying to assess what that might mean for a continuing contest.
“‘If something else horrible happens, does the nation instinctively rally around the president?’ asked a senior adviser to one contender, who did not want to be identified because of the delicacy of the subject. ‘Or do they say: “It’s this guy’s job keep my family safe. He’s had two years to prepare for it.”’
“Along those lines, aides suggested that some statements by the White House and the Democratic candidates were intended in part to position the campaigns in the event of a terrorist attack over the next 24 months.”
Pretty clear, eh?
Now, let me state something unequivocal. I am not saying the Democrats “hope” for a terrorist attack. What I am accusing them of is cynicism to a disgusting degree. They see the intelligence reports. They know we remain vulnerable - as White House officials have repeatedly told us. And the majority of these “leaders” presently serve in Congress, where they could be doing something about the dangers they see as imminent.
Instead of outlining a better defensive plan while admitting that, in a free society, the government can only do so much domestically, these Democrats are positioning themselves for “I told you so” duty on the morning talk shows after a terror attack. They may not want the almost inevitable attack to occur, but their logic seems to be if the attack is coming anyway, why not take political advantage?
Democrats did the same thing with the economy; remember, the current downturn “officially” began about a month after Bush came into office, before any of his policies were in place. Unofficially, the economic slide started with the stock market’s decline in 2000, while Bill Clinton and Al Gore were well ensconced in the White House. Yet Democratic leaders have called this the Bush recession while offering no policy solutions, only complaints. At least a poor economy only brings financial hardships. A terror attack claims lives.
“Washington is not doing enough to make America safe,” says Senator John Edwards, but he offers no suggestions to improve the situation.
However, he makes certain everyone will know who to blame: “If the administration continues to do too little, it will be too late again.”
Senator Joe Lieberman claims, rightly I believe, “people are only slightly safer today here at home than we were on September 11, 2001.” Yet where are the prescriptions to fix things, Joe?
Senator John Kerry, between citations of his Vietnam War experience, says the administration has “squandered” the last year. What would John have done differently? He doesn’t say.
Was it not a year ago that political discussions centered on the need for Democrats to establish themselves as a “loyal opposition” by specifying different options and policies in the war on terror, particularly on the domestic front. Yet, as 2003 ends, by luck or skill, the Bush administration has managed to stop any major new attacks inside the United States, to defang al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and to move the world toward a consensus on disarming terror supporter Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, the Democrats suffered a historic loss at the ballot box in the midterm elections precisely because they were seen less as partners and more as obstacles in White House efforts to secure the homeland. They apparently have not learned anything.
To avoid any responsibility for America’s defense while positioning for political gain in the likely event of a successful attack by the enemy is one of the more sickening ploys attempted by Democrats.

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