Congressional Dems have no message or strategy on national security, and they’re getting badly outworked by the GOP on the issue.
The GOP has a very specific strategy in place. Republicans are intent on making national security a major issue in 2010. Their plan: Drive a wedge between the White House and Congressional Dems by relentlessly attacking Obama’s policies for making us less safe.
The GOP goal: To get House and Senate Dems to break with the White House on closing Guantanamo, the Mirandizing of the Christmas bomb plotter, the plan to try terror suspects in civilian courts, and other issues.
The Republican leadership even sent House GOPers back to their districts this week with a very specific set of talking points, sent over by a source, telling them precisely what to say to constituents about those specific issues.
There’s no sign whatsoever that Congressional Dems were given anything similar, or even that Dem leaders have spent any time developing a strategy of their own. Are you hearing any concerted pushback, or any message at all, on these issues from Dems?
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."
Spencer Ackerman adds:
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?
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?
Dems have been so cowed for so long on national security that they are forgetting that in 2006 and 2008, Democrats won on Bush's and the Republicans disastrous "war on terror" and Iraq Debacle. Fear lost in the last two elections. Republicans are going right back to that well, and if Democrats refuse to engage on it, they'll lose because there will only be one side arguing.