TAPPED is on vacation. Adam Serwer, blogger on the rise, has nowhere to post. He’s trying to enjoy his vacation. But people keep saying dumb shit. And that makes Adam want to unload. So I offer up this forum…
The GOP’s response to the failed X-Mas bomber has been transparently craven and political, with Jim DeMint using the attack as an opportunity to hit the administration for its support of unions (not so impressive) and Peter King comparing the President’s decision to to treat every failed wanna-be terrorist as a national crisis to President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina–during which nearly 700 people died.
In his interview with CNN, however, King may have given up just how little the GOP and Obama actually disagree on national security policy:
Yes. I — first of all, they started off the first several months of the Obama administration refusing to use the word terrorism. Janet Napolitano said it would no longer be in the vocabulary of the Department of Homeland Security because they thought that it connoted fear. And Secretary Clinton is saying that the policy of the administration was not to talk about terrorism. Even when the president gave his speech at West Point about the troops going to Afghanistan, he didn’t use the word terrorism. He spoke of extremism.
So, no, I don’t think they are comfortable. And having said, let me make it clear, I think they are doing the right thing as far as their policies. Since this attack occurred, the FBI and, as far as I can tell, Homeland Security and all the agencies of the United States government are doing the right job.
First of all, this criticism is factually inaccurate on all counts. Jettisoning the “war on terrorism framework” did not mean abandoning the war against al-Qaeda. And, in fact, the president did mention terrorism in his Afghanistan speech.
But the most telling thing King says is that he thinks the Obama administration “is doing the right thing as far as their policies.” That makes perfect sense: the Obama administration’s national security policies are very similar to those of the Bush administration, after the courts finished playing Operation with Bush’s approach and enough extra-constitutional excesses were excised. The GOP criticism of Obama over the X-Mas attack then amounts to basically one thing: The president’s refusal to utilize the (counterproductive) conservative lexicon to induce the kind of mass panic they feel is appropriate.
It’s bizarre. The GOP seems to be arguing, on the one hand, that AQ and its wannabes are unstoppable holy warriors that require wholesale abandonment of democratic institutions, human rights standards, and open-ended military engagements across the globe. That’s, frankly, how AQ would like to see themselves.
On the other hand, they also seem to be arguing that if Obama just wagged his finger and called them “jihadists”, they’d scurry back to their caves and quake in fear of American power. There’s a kind of security theater demanded by Republicans that rivals, in terms of sheer uselessness, the TSA’s insistence that you only get to carry two lighters on your person when getting on a plane. It’s too bad Democrats are too busy being stuck in a cycle of learned helplessness on national security issues to call this sort of response out for what it is.