Democrats: The Real Anti-Terrorists

Jonathan Chait, writing in the Los Angeles Times, finds that Republicans believe their claims that Democrats are soft on terrorism, despite all the evidence to the contrary:

It’s not just die-hard GOP partisans who think the Democratic alternative is to do nothing. Disillusioned conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan recently lacerated Bush’s foreign policy but concluded: “If the Democrats could present a multifaceted, hard-nosed approach to winning the war, a lot of us in the middle would give them a second look.” It fell to his liberal fellow blogger Kevin Drum to point out that nearly every element of the alternative Sullivan called for — nonviolent democracy promotion, energy conservation, beefed-up homeland security and so on — was contained in a plan recently drafted by congressional Democrats.

And, indeed, the 2004 Democratic platform was filled with specific plans for a stronger reply to Islamic radicalism: Add 40,000 soldiers, double the Special Forces, inspect more cargo, track down loose nuclear material, and on and on.

Chait finds that failing to realize that the Democrats have offered a response on terrorism has been disasterous for the Republicans:

Yet this belief has had catastrophic consequences. Because conservatives genuinely bought into Bush’s view that the only choice was to follow him or coddle the terrorists, they chose to follow him. Thus they have been unwilling to openly question the numerous Bush foreign policy fiascos — from refusing to use U.S. troops to capture Osama bin Laden and his henchmen to failing to plan for the Iraq occupation. If they had raised some questions a couple of years ago, maybe our Middle East policy wouldn’t be a shambles. And maybe, come to think of it, their party wouldn’t be utterly discredited in the eyes of the public.

While this belief has been disasterous for the Republicans, it has been even more a disaster for the nation. While Chait may be correct that in many instances Republicans really believe their claims about the views of Democrats on national security, this has long been a lie spread by the right wing noise machine. Joe Conason refuted this Big Lie in his book (chapter available here).

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