So over the past several weeks the Obama administration has successfully interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab without torturing him — something Dick Cheney simply can’t contemplate — and will try him in a federal court, where he’s sure to be convicted. Then it continued to launch missile strikes in Yemen (not that that’s such a good thing!) on Abdulmutallab’s overlords in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that caused a former Bushie to whine that there was too much terrorist-killing and not enough terrorist-capturing. So then the administration worked with Pakistan to capture the deputy commander of the Taliban and that was just for starters. Obama’s approval rating on national security has increased since Abdulmutallab.
And yet, as Greg Sargent observes in a great post, where in the world is the Democratic national security messaging? The Obama administration is racking up wins on the issue like it was a pool hustler. Where are all the surrogates? Why are John Brennan and Joe Biden doing all the work here?
One frustrated Dem strategist who works closely with House Dem candidate across the country told me: “We’re behaving like the President has a 30% approval rating. On these issues, Democrats inherently believe no one will believe our arguments.”
Crazytown. The facts are there. Obama’s national security numbers outpoll the GOP’s. There’s clearly an audience there. What’s amazing isn’t just that there’s no bunch of Congresspeople on TV to back the administration — to say nothing of Democratic candidates. It’s that there are no surrogates out there pushing back on endless conservative national-security attacks that have been disproven, like how we need to torture people to get information out of them, or how military commissions have a better record of convicting terrorists than civilian courts when the exact opposite is true. Hell, the question I have for the GOP is if the conviction rate isn’t the metric for success in a terrorism prosecution — Mitch McConnell called convicted-for-life Zacharias Moussoui’s prosecution a “disaster” — then what in the world is?
The GOP’s glass jaw has already been cracked, and cracked badly, by the facts. But that’s not enough to win a political argument, as everyone knows. So where are the surrogates to give the TKO punch? Or is this going to be yet another unforced Democratic political error, in which the Democrats fold on a winning hand because they don’t have the stomach for the game?
*With apologies to Josh Foust for sounding like a Dem shill.
Update: Shame on me for forgetting momentarily that a close friend of mine wrote a very good book about this and related issues.