Monday, September 18, 2006

Campaign Game-Playing

I think the GOP has succeeded in making security the main talking point for the 2006 elections. I suppose it's as good an issue as any this year, but I would have preferred the Democrats' having the spine to force other issues onto the table, like the real effect of the "Bush Boom" economy on the average American family or the cost of congressional corruption to the taxpayer. What is heartening, however, is that the Republicans (including the Emperor) have discovered the downside of harping on terra-terra-terra in ways they hadn't counted on. Even the Washington Post felt compelled to chastise the GOP for some outrageous assertions on the security issue in one of today's editorials.

"I LISTEN TO MY Democrat friends, and I wonder if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."

That was House Majority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio talking to reporters last week. He should apologize.

For five years the country has been debating how to balance aggressive action to prevent and punish terrorism with core concerns about privacy and other civil liberties. On many issues -- the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in secret prisons, warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, prohibitions against torture -- Democrats, joined by some brave and responsible Republicans and more often than not backed up by the courts, have served as an important brake on an administration heedless of constitutional requirements, international law and national reputation. On some matters -- for instance, their overblown denunciations of the USA Patriot Act -- Democrats have been mistaken in their criticisms.

While I hardly think the Democrats were wrong in their denunciations of the USA Patriot Act, especially as to its casual bypassing of constitution rights, the editorialist at least acknowledges the Democratic Party's concern that all of this security tough talk was nothing more than a way for an out of control administration to usurp all the power and money it could.

Democrats need to point that fact out over and over again. They have already pointed out that in terms of real "homeland security" the GOP and the administration have failed miserably as noted by the 9/11 Commission. It took the nearness of an election and miserable poll numbers for Congress to pass a port security measure, hastily drafted and weak as it was.

The Democrats have plenty to pound the Republicans with, security included. Then, perhaps they should adopt Newt Gingrich's tongue-in-cheek recommendation for a campaign slogan: "Had Enough?"


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