Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | May 20, 2003

Turning the tables on national security

It doesn't take a great deal of political acumen or insight to note that national security will play a dominant role in the 2004 election. While Democrats may want to divert attention to the economy, Bush/Rove won't allow it. And given the president's bully pulpit, he'll be able to reshape the agenda in ways the Democrats simply cannot match.

As such, it is clear that Democrats need to find ways to effectively counter any advantages Bush enjoys on national security issues. "Me-tooism", a la Lieberman, won't work. If people are happy with the president's war handling, they will have little impetus to change gears and elect a Democrat. Rather, the Democrats need to chip away at Bush's armor.

Here are two rhetorical weapons Democrats can wield:

1) Bush allowed Al Qaeda to regroup
We have had one entity declare war on us the past three years -- Al Qaeda. Following 9-11, Bush did the right thing and took out Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, scattering them around the region and the globe.

But rather than follow up on such successes by hunting down the remants, Bush turned to his one true obsession -- a defanged, impoten tyrant in Iraq. The US spent over a year building up its ammunition stores, attempting to trump up a rationale for its preordained war of aggression. And as the US military/intelligence apparatus trained its eyes on Iraq, Al Qaeda bid its time, regrouping, recruiting, rearming.

The US attacked Iraq, and Al Qaeda continued to watch. Triumphant neocons declared that Al Qaeda was dead because it didn't strike during the war, but Bin Laden had no reason to strike. He hated Saddam and saw the chaos of post-war Iraq as prime recruiting ground.

Iraq fell quickly, and as the post-war euphoria faded, Al Qaeda struck. And it struck again. And now the realization is starting to sink in -- Bush allowed this to happen. He didn't press our advantage against Al Qaeda when we had them running scared. He didn't hunt them down when give the chance. He took valuable resources from the fight against our current enemy to exact revenge on an old one.

And now we are harvesting what Bush's choices have sown -- a resurgent Al Qaeda with the ability to strike at will, over much of the world.

Bush let this happen. And Democrats cannot shrink from making this point heard loud and clear.

2) Our cities crumble as we spend billions in Iraq
Our nation is facing mounting debt, spurred by Bush's reckless tax cuts and spending priorities. Yet states (despite the $50 billion bailout in the tax cut bill) are forced to slash services left and right. Schools are closing early while teachers are laid off. Prisons are being forced shut, criminals released early. Roads and bridges crumble. Tax cuts at the federal level are replaced by tax hikes in many states.

Why? Because, Bush says, we have no money. Yet all the while Bush has no qualms about spending $200 billion in Iraq over the next two or three years.

Dems need to hammer this point. Why are your schools closing? Because Bush sent your money to Iraq. Why have your library hours been cut? Because Bush sent your money to Iraq. Why are government services up and down the board being cut or eliminated? Because Bush sent your money to Iraq.


The "talking point" version of these arguments?

Bush's war against Iraq has repercussions. You are less secure from terrorist attack, while your community doesn't have the money to offer basic services.
Give it a bit more polish, and this message will help take the shine off Bush's "victory".

Posted May 20, 2003 10:35 AM | Comments (125)


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