It’s fun to see Josh Marshall getting back to a core competency of TPM – taking one issue and refusing to let it go. Today he asks a simple question for those in the GOP trying to criticize the Justice Department for trying Umar Farouk Abdulmtallab in criminal court: why, then, was Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, also tried in criminal court during the Bush Administration?

It’s not a question for which anyone on the right has an answer on the ready. Marc Thiessen at National Review gives it a try, claiming that military tribunals and enemy combatant concepts didn’t exist when the Bush Administration decided to try Reid in court. That’s not at all true. Thiessen tried to argue that the Jose Padilla case was a better parallel. It’s not. The US lacked evidence on Padilla to try him in civilian court.

Pete Hoekstra’s spokesman punted, saying that the Congressman, who has a quick opinion on virtually every counter-terrorism issue, hasn’t studied the Reid issue in detail:

“The issue here isn’t to look at these things piecemeal,” Ware says. “It’s to figure out, how do you address situations where people like Abdulmutallab and Reid that are taken into custody after failed attacks on American soil.”

Mike Rogers (R-MI) was just asked the same question by David Shuster, and he said that Reid and Abdulmutallab are “different circumstances.” No they’re not. In fact they’re ridiculously similar. Reid tried to blow up a plane with the very same combustible materials as Abdulmutallab. He said that 9-11 changed everything. But Reid tried to blow up a plane months after 9-11. He eventually said that any foreigners who commit criminal actions on American soil should be taken to a legally dubious parallel justice system.

Here’s Marshall’s conclusion:

There’s no way to spin this. There’s no reason beside GOP electoral strategy for not trying AbdulMutallab in a regular American Court.

Quite right. And it’s sad that it takes a new media reporter to come to that conclusion instead of anyone in the leadership of the Democratic Party.