Republicans use underwear bomber for political ends
I don't suppose anyone is really surprised that Republicans are using the recent foiled terrorist attack by the son of a Nigerian banker for short-term political gain. Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra is already exploiting this incident in ads, vowing to be hard on "weak-kneed liberals" if elected governor of Michigan this coming November. Fellow Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder is falling in line, also resorting to this kind of sleaze.
Of course, it's not just two-bit Republican politicians who are pulling this. Former [Vice] President Dick "Dick" Cheney has also been making the same case, saying that the Obama administration and the liberals are putting too much faith in our justice system and not enough faith in martyring failed terrorists, and that we need to declare a Global Jihad for Christianity and White People or something. The Republicans seem to think that if they talk tough enough about terrorism and if they malign the Democrats enough as being soft on terror that they'll somehow manage to divide the country enough to pull off massive Republican victories in 2010. They seem to think that the Republican party has an unimpugnable record on security, and that the American people (read: right-wing base voters) will swarm to the polls on Election Day to reward this divisiveness.
Security is not a conservative/liberal issue. It's not a political football. Security should be politically neutral. If it isn't, we're putting lives and institutions at risk, as did the incompetent Bush administration. And it's not because the Bush administration was conservative or crypto-fascist or theocratic or anything like that (that's a different conversation altogether.) It's because the Bush administration was opportunistic, and used the September 11 crisis to shore up its marginal popularity and to bash the Democrats with the national security club. And now that the Bush administration is thankfully out of office, it's still doing it. And right-wing Republicans like Pete Hoekstra and Jim DeMint and Jon Kyl are doing it. And they'll keep on doing it until the White House starts answering their absurd accusations, at which point they'll probably continue to keep on doing it.
The White House has finally begun to respond to Cheney's attacks. It shouldn't have to be this way, but clods like Cheney have to be responded to. There's just no other way. National security is where the Republicans seem to be placing all their bets. They seem to want to reach out to the Teabaggers but are having trouble making inroads with them. After all, the Teabaggers want tax cuts for everyone, not just the wealthy; the Teabaggers also want crazier things, like isolationist foreign policy and a return to the gold standard which, as nutty as today's Republican party might be, are ideas that today's Republican party can't embrace and which today's Republicans can't pay lip service to without coming across as insincere.
When the Republicans controlled the White House and the House of Representatives, it was easy to bludgeon the opposition with the cudgel of national security. When the Republicans also controlled the Senate, it was easier still. Now that they control none of they above, it remains to be seen whether they can get any traction out of calling the United States government, the Pentagon, and the majority of its voters a bunch of weak-kneed terrorist stooges. Will it work? God, I hope not. The Obama administration's response to these scurrulous charges is a good initial sign. We'll find out how the Republicans' continued politicization of security stands up in 2010. If this is the best the Republicans can do against the Democrats, then I'll agree with the Teabaggers on one point: the Republicans need to be replaced with a new political party. With any luck that new party will be more in the mold of Lincoln Chafee and less in the mold of the John Birch Society, but I'm not optimistic.
Linked below is an excellent clip from the Rachel Maddow Show where she touches on many of the points I made, and inspired this little post of mine. It's Rachel at her best, and it's worth the ten minutes you'll need to spend watching it. I don't expect any right wingers to bother, but it's refreshing common sense. Toward the end is my favorite part, so if you don't have ten minutes to spare, at least check out the last half. Maddow clearly has her biases, but that doesn't mean that what she says is necessarily unfair. In fact, she's quite fair in her commentary in general, and in the piece linked below in particular.