I’m beginning to wonder if Politico pays Dick Cheney per link generated. It seems that every couple weeks or so, they send over a dictaphone to his house which he then fills with the usual paranoid rantings and rhetorical shots at the President. Unfortunately, the dictaphone isn’t accompanied by a “reporter” who could then ask Cheney a “question” about whatever it is he’s discussing at the time.
So here’s today’s air-dropped statement (no link to Politico because I don’t want to fund Cheney’s next pacemaker operation):
“As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.
“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.”
There’s no question that this is a massive bit of hypocrisy. George Bush was silent for six days after Richard Reid’s analogous failed “show bomber” attack. They prosecuted Reid in court, convicted him and held him in federal prison. They let hundreds of Guantanamo detainees go, often haphazardly, including two sent to Saudi Arabia for art therapy, both of whom eventually joined up with Al Qaeda in Yemen and may have had a role in the Christmas Day incident. And the idea that the President hasn’t yelled and screamed “Terra! Terra! Terra!” enough because he wants to transform global society is hampered by the fact that, if you did want to transform global society, exploiting a perceived crisis is exactly what you would do.
But again, Politico doesn’t see it as their role to actually press Dick Cheney on any of this. They’d rather he essentially write op-eds for them and generate hits so they can “win the day.” Josh Marshall may be offering a prize for actual reporting, but I just don’t see it happening. It wouldn’t fit with the manner with which the traditional media reports on terrorism.
I’m not saying that the White House, and actually Democrats in general, aren’t looking feckless by essentially remaining silent in the face of Republican attacks. They could start by highlighting the fact that Republicans are admitting that the attacks are essentially political:
Since before Obama was sworn into office, Republicans have been building a case that he is weak on national security, and in the wake of the intelligence and security failures that led to last week’s incident, they think that narrative might stick. Congressional Republicans and GOP pollsters said they believe the administration’s response to the failed attack on a Detroit-bound plane — along with Obama’s decisions on the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the intelligence lapses connected to November’s massacre at Fort Hood, Tex. — damage the Democratic brand [...]
“There’s a certain fragility to his numbers on the perception of how he’s handling national security issues,” said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “They certainly can move and move quickly based on a specific incident such as this.” The Detroit incident is “a black eye” for the administration, Newhouse continued, because it feeds the perception that dangerous jihadists are “falling through the cracks.”
One party is shaping their opponent’s record; the other party barely mentions their opponent’s record. That’s the asymmetrical warfare that’s going on here. And until Democrats actually get some kind of rapid response, there’s virtually no reason for the media to change their ways and challenge the GOP on national security. They’re taking their cues from the party in power.