Patterico's Pontifications


Democrats close national security gap, follow evil Bush policies

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:41 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Democrat-affiliated Democracy Corps has a new poll purporting to show that Pres. Obama polls higher on national security than his overall job approval, and that Democrats have drawn about even with Republicans on national security and the war on terrorism. Left-leaning pundits like TIME’s Joe Klein exult:

[W]e should not underestimate the significance here: Obama is trying to do something far more complicated and sophisticated than Bush–comprehensive diplomacy takes time and great skill. It doesn’t have the immediate satisfactions of a bang-bang, three-week rush to Baghdad (although the successfully kinetic anti-pirate operation may have something to do with this level of approval).

Diplomacy does take time, but Obama has little to show for his efforts to date. On issues as diverse as the global recession, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Europe and NATO have almost entirely rejected Obama’s agenda. Israel is at loggerheads with the current administration. Obama’s call for a world without nukes was met with a North Korean missile test. His outstretched hand to the mullahs running Iran has been met with another missile test. And unstable Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal.

So what is there for voters to like about Obama and the Democrats on national security and the war, if not diplomacy?

How about the fact that — as Jack Goldsmith points out at The New Republic — with a few minor exceptions, Obama has embraced eleven essential elements of fmr. Pres. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism policy? Internet sock-puppeteer and ideologue Glenn Greenwald sums it up from a lefty perspective:

Just consider some of Goldsmith’s examples: Obama makes a melodramatic showing of ordering Guantanamo closed but then re-creates its systematic denial of detainee rights in Bagram, and “[l]ast month Secretary of Defense Gates hinted that up to 100 suspected terrorists would be detained without trial.” Obama announces that all interrogations must comply with the Army Field Manual but then has his CIA Director announce that he will seek greater interrogation authority whenever it is needed and convenes a task force to determine which enhanced interrogation methods beyond the Field Manual should be authorized. He railed against Bush’s Guantanamo military commissions but then preserved them with changes that are plainly cosmetic.

Obama has been at least as aggressive as Bush was in asserting radical secrecy doctrines in order to prevent courts from ruling on illegal torture and spying programs and to block victims from having a day in court. He has continued and even “ramped up” so-called “targeted killings” in Pakistan and Afghanistan which, as Goldsmith puts it, “have predictably caused more collateral damage to innocent civilians.” He has maintained not only Bush’s rendition policy but also the standard used to determine to which countries a suspect can be rendered, and has kept Bush’s domestic surveillance policies in place and unchanged. Most of all, he has emphatically endorsed the Bush/Cheney paradigm that we are engaged in a “war” against Terrorists — with all of the accompanying presidential “war powers” — rather than the law enforcement challenge that John Kerry, among others, advocated.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are blocking the relocation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Partisan hacks like Joe Klein — as opposed to ideologues like Greenwald — may want to consider exactly what it is voters like about Obama and the Democrats on national security these days. Moreover, in the longer-term, voters may come to recognize that the Democrats and their lapdog media were playing politics with our national security during the Bush administration. The public may be willing to overlook that during times of safety, but if the Democrats falter, it may well haunt them.

Cross-posted at HotAir, with updates from Allahpundit:

Update (AP): The Senate vote on Gitmo went off as expected after Karl posted this. 90-6, with not even Russ Feingold in opposition. Meanwhile, in a case that’ll probably end up in the Supreme Court with Anthony Kennedy breaking our hearts yet again, a federal district judge gave The One some breathing room on Gitmo by ruling that some detainees can indeed be held indefinitely without charges. I confess, I’m not sure why Supermax is safe enough to hold someone as dangerous as Ramzi Yousef but not safe enough to hold KSM or Abu Zubaydah, but the head of the FBI told Congress today the idea of transferring them worries him. (“Mueller [noted] that in some instances imprisoned gang leaders have run their gangs from inside prisons.”)

Lest you doubt that Karl’s right and that the GOP’s winning this debate — resoundingly — note that Cheney’s been scheduled for weeks to address AEI at 10:45 tomorrow morning about national security. And now, as Goldfarb notes, suddenly The One’s scheduled to give a national security speech of his own at 10:10. Fancy that.

Update (AP): Again via Goldfarb, AEI states the obvious about a dazzling coincidence:

The announcement of the former Veep’s address went out officially from AEI on May 12, though he had been asked to give a talk a couple of weeks before. (We asked him because this is one of the most important national security issues of the day, and AEI is committed to informing and prompting a public debate consisting of more than sound bites.) President Obama’s speech was announced today. What do we think? 1) The Obama White House runs the savviest information ops of any White House in modern history. This is all about rebutting an increasingly effective exponent of aggressive counterterrorism policies. 2) Why do it? The simple answer is that the public is listening to Cheney on the issues, and if the Democratic Congress’s decision this week to deny funding to close Gitmo is any indication, finger-in-the-wind politicians are listening, too.


51 Responses to “Democrats close national security gap, follow evil Bush policies”

  1. suppose the roles were reversed then off course the matter would get resolved another way…..

    finally as an insider would tell you that the buck stops hear………

    san francisco companies are publicly held companies on the Nasdaq the center of attention of the masses……..

    another good debate gone south…..

    or should one say ‘too many cooks on the block…

    64 bits at a time….

    salil (2a2a80)

  2. …or should someone get back on their meds?

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  3. I am pleased that Teh One has adopted Bush’s policies.

    The breath-taking mendoucheousness of the Dems and the MSM over the last several years on these issues should dispel any notion that the Dems view national security as anuthing other than something to demagogue. This also nicely demonstrates how utterly dishonest Teh One was with these issues during the campaign.

    Kudos to the Gleens for being wrong no matter who is in office.

    JD (57d75b)

  4. I don’t know how we’ll handle these things now that Rush has resigned as titular head of the Republican Party. Did you listen to that recording? He must have said “titular” two dozen times. I think he just likes saying titular.

    Actually, this doesn’t fit this thread at all. I just wanted to say it somewhere. 😉

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  5. salil could use some professional help.

    JD (57d75b)

  6. There’s nothing I like more than reading a Karl post (except, of course, a Patterico post), and this is one of his best. Like most conservatives, I’m happy when Obama copies Bush because I think Bush’s decisions made America far safer than anything Obama espoused during the campaign. Still, I can’t help wondering why he’s done a 180.

    I’d like to think Obama is finally taking terrorism seriously and that he realizes Bush’s policies were smart, fair, and protect Americans. But I have a feeling Obama simply doesn’t care much about foreign policy, so he continues to lace his speeches with words and policies from his campaign while leaving Bush’s framework alone — not because it’s better but because it’s easier.

    DRJ (f55947)

  7. No doubt Hillary! will know what to do.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  8. If you really want to see how far Teh One has moved from his prior positions, look at a transcript of the Philadelphia debate against Hillary.

    DRJ – In case I had not mentioned it recently, and I feel safe in speaking for all of the non-mendoucheous people, I/we are sooooooooo happy for your return. Hope all is well with you and yours.

    JD (57d75b)

  9. That Senate vote referenced in the update reminds me of when the Senate refused to ratify Kyoto, around 96-0 if I remember correctly.

    JD (57d75b)

  10. DRJ: I think you are on to something, but I don’t think its because following Bush’s policies are easier as it is that they are safer — or, more to the point, safer for Obama.

    If Obama carried out all of his war on terror campaign promises and we were hit again with another terrorist attack nostalgia for the Bush Administration would go through the roof, if it happened twice Obama would become an instant lame duck. By continuing the policies he provides himself political cover in the event disaster strikes. And the fact that the policies lessen the possibility that disaster will strike is a bonus.

    Sean P (e57269)

  11. Torture is but one of many issues that Teh One has made an about face on, racist beergod.

    JD (57d75b)

  12. To reiterate:
    Nothing that has been done by the CIA to detainees currently at GITMO constitutes “torture” since none of the proceedures used are proscribed by Congress as torture in legislation and law.

    Just more projection by the lunatics of the Left.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  13. But,the Geneva Conventions, POW’s, never mind, you blood thirsty torture apologists.

    JD (57d75b)

  14. 10. It was 95-0 by the Senate in July of 1997.

    What is rich is that Lurch attacked the President (W) in debates for NOT supporting the Global warming treaty even though he himself (sKerry) did not support the Kyoto Protocol when it came up for that Senate vote in ’97. I’m sure he must have had his NUANCED reasons.

    Diane Feinstein and Reid were among the five who did not vote either way.

    I love how preventing further attacks by waterboarding three jihadists offends beergut’s conscience. Better that thousands of Americans die so that he and his sanctimonious fellow travelers can continue to bash the last administration. Yes, there really is a moral equivalency to waterboarding that mass murdering Islamoturd vs. sawing off the head of Daniel Pearl. Funny how demtards want more pix of panties over heads, fake menstrual blood et al but are admantly opposed to graphic images from 911. Methinks beergut, jap condom and their kind should relocate to some 3rd world shithole and embrace Islam.

    aoibhneas (55634c)

  15. JD – I believe, according to the Geneva Convention, that hostiles captured out of uniform and operating outside of an official declaration of war from a GC signatory can be shot immediately.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  16. Comment by Apogee — 5/20/2009 @ 3:16 pm

    …if not sooner!

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  17. Thanks, DRJ!

    Karl (ea222a)

  18. Sean P – You certainly may be right, and frankly I hope you are. However, if that were Obama’s sole motivation, then I think an Obama Administration might leave unchanged the military and intelligence decisions but revamp the legal issues involved. After all, legal issues are arguably not as vital as military/intelligence policies to national security. In addition, Obama and his legal appointees have been educated at the nation’s elite law schools and are viewed by the media, academics, and liberals as some of America’s preeminent legal intellects. (I have no doubt they believe they far surpass any legal minds in the Bush Administration.) Thus, their reluctance to do more than tinker with the legal policies makes me think there is something more involved. I just don’t know what that something more is.

    JD – Thank you for the good wishes. I’m having a wonderful day and I hope you and your ladies are, too.

    Karl – No thanks necessary. I’m the one who benefited from reading this.

    DRJ (f55947)

  19. JD – 95 to 0 the Senate passed a resolution stating that it would not ratify a climate change treaty that treated developing nations differently ( which the Kyoto Protocol does ). The Clinton administration never presented the treaty to the Senate for ratification because they knew that they had no support.

    SPQR (72771e)

  20. One of best among many reasons not to torture and/or engage in cruel, unusual and degrading interrogations is that you are then left with a human being who cannot be fairly prosecuted and therefore

    Proof of this assertion, please – let’s see some objective sourcing and references for how the interrogation methods used by our armed services personnel has lead to your conclusion.

    we were hit again with another terrorist attack nostalgia for the Bush Administration would go through the roof, if it happened twice Obama would become an instant lame duck.

    I disagree, Sean – if we’re hit with one terrorist attack Obama’s toast, period. After all the caterwauling and obstructionist behavior from the Dems regarding the WOT, one attack will put them away, perhaps for many years to come. It won’t matter a whit what actual policies Obama has endorsed – his party’s prior actions will make the case against him, no matter how fancy the rhetoric.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  21. I’d like to think Obama is finally taking terrorism seriously and that he realizes Bush’s policies were smart, fair, and protect Americans. But I have a feeling Obama simply doesn’t care much about foreign policy,

    I think this is a key fact. He is just not that into the foreign stuff. He criticizes Americans for speaking only English but he is monolingual, unless you count “Austrian.”

    He is the ultimate post-modern president. There is no there there. It is all show.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  22. Thank you, SPQR. That is the vote I was talking about.

    Apogee – Precisely.

    JD (57d75b)

  23. Mike K – I think that Teh One cares plenty about foreign popularity. Policy, not so much.

    JD (57d75b)

  24. “I think that Teh One cares plenty about foreign popularity.”

    He’s a celebrity!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  25. And, like most celebrities, he is not famous for his accomplishments, but is famous for being famous.

    Just another empty suit.

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  26. JD, wasn’t trying to show you up, it is just that I think that the Clinton admin never presented the treaty is even more fascinating than the vote. Especially given Al Gore’s fatuous preening.

    SPQR (72771e)

  27. Like I have said, Bush wasn’t all bad. He had some good foreign policy ideas. Don’t forget he was reelected on that score in 2004. The only thing that killed him was Iraq. Apart from that, he was okay. Obama knows this. That is why he is smart enough not to throw away all the right things done before he came. Obama is more “Bush” with a little more common-sense and thoughtfulness.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  28. That is why he was smart enough to promise all sorts of things to his dupe followers, things they desperately wanted, things he knew were impossible.

    Amphipolis (42043b)

  29. Only problem, lovie, is that Teh One spent over 2 years campaigning as the anti-Bush hopey changey thingie. Turns out, on some pretty important issues, Bush was spot on, which makes Barcky spot not-on.

    SPQR – I know, and welcome the correction. The irony is rich in that one, given algore’s moral preening.

    JD (57d75b)

  30. Yes, He Can’t

    Amphipolis (42043b)

  31. Running the country is not nearly as easy as the previous 43 presidents made it look, eh?

    And the pollyana gobbledygook Obama laid on the left to get himself elected was never going to work in reality- a fact that the calculating opportunist Obama likely knew well- back when he was promising them the moon and the stars.

    Reaganite Republican Resistance (6836b1)

  32. It’s easier to copy what has worked. It’s immensely more difficult to be original and thoughtful as one develops their own strategies and policy. I don’t think Obama is concerned with much more than appearance – which makes adopting someone else’s policies that much more appealing. Who wants to do the legwork and hard thinking when there is a world waiting to be charmed? Assuming that he’s done this because it’s safer is giving him the benefit of the doubt and I haven’t seen any viable reason to do that.

    Dana (4a6e8c)

  33. Comment by Amphipolis — 5/20/2009 @ 4:41 pm
    They did not vote for him because of his “promises”. They just wanted Bush out. And don’t forget that all those votes would have meant nothing without the Indies.

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  34. “They did not vote for him because of his “promises”. They just wanted Bush out.”

    They had a choice. Duh! Bush wasn’t running.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  35. Comment by daleyrocks — 5/20/2009 @ 5:22 pm

    Yes he wasn’t, but his party was. And McCain was not so different from Bush, was he? Duh!

    The Emperor (09c9e3)

  36. Demonstrated Unseriousness!

    AD - RtR/OS! (47d252)

  37. And McCain was not so different from Bush

    Judging by the things Obama has changed his mind on, neither is Obama

    Steverino (69d941)

  38. daley, that was funny.

    carlitos (2703cf)

  39. Turns out, on some pretty important issues, Bush was spot on, which makes Barcky spot not-on.

    And yet he’s still out on the hustings, screeching about the eeevils of the Bushies. The outrageous hypocricy is truly breathtaking, no?

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  40. Obama has embraced eleven essential elements of fmr. Pres. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism policy

    Who knew? Obama kept over Robert Gates, David Petraeus and Adm. Mike Mullen.

    Another holdover, Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office responsible for the low-altitude flyover of New York, didn’t work out.

    CBS News just hired Bush’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Combatting Terrorism as on-air analyst on counterterrorism. We should shortly hear if he also believes “lapdog media were playing politics with our national security during the Bush administration.”

    steve (df620e)

  41. steve,

    Based on what I’ve read, while it may be true that Caldera served in the Bush Administration Military Office, he was originally a Clinton appointee.

    DRJ (f55947)

  42. DRJ – You are correct. Caldera was a Clinton appointee, but steve could not allow a little fact to get in the way of Teh Narrative.

    JD (d467d3)

  43. It was Obama that changed the head of the WHMO from a serving officer. Sheesh, steve, is there any limit to what you’ll make up?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  44. And yet again, TheEmperor shows utter ignorance of modern politics with this: “And McCain was not so different from Bush, was he?


    SPQR (26be8b)

  45. Caldera was not a Bush holdover.

    I apologize.

    steve (df620e)

  46. I confess, I’m not sure why Supermax is safe enough to hold someone as dangerous as Ramzi Yousef but not safe enough to hold KSM or Abu Zubaydah ….

    It’s not just about keeping the terrorists in, or just keeping a few isolated terrorists in. It’s about who might try to spring them if they’re all moved from Gitmo, and how easy you want to make that, and what collateral consequences you want to invite by requiring that efforts to do so take place on American soil. (My more extended take on this exact topic is here.)

    Beldar (1ecdab)

  47. I recommend Beldar’s extended take on moving Gitmo terrorists onto U.S. soil.

    DRJ (f55947)

  48. […] boy isn’t going to take it lying down? Gee who’d have thunk it. Getting scared? You should be. Lest you doubt that Karl’s right and that the GOP’s winning this debate — resoundingly — […]

    Obama Reversed On Gitmo « Something should go here, maybe later. (5381c6)

  49. They wanted Bush out. So they went with a fantasy.

    I thought only adults had the franchise in this country.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  50. And McCain was not so different from Bush, was he?

    And it turns out Obama is no different…no, I just can’t say the rest of it. It seems cruel to pop the bubble they are in.

    Reminds me of the description of women in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness:
    It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living with consistently every since the day of creation would start up and knock the first thing over.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  51. […] problems Obama faces here are the flip side of his decisions to embrace — and possibly extend — the Bush administration’s war policies. These are decisions made […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Pres. Obama and the Reality Bomb (e4ab32)

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