Saturday, December 05, 2015


In The New York Times today, Michael Barbaro and Trip Gabriel note that the Republican presidential candidates are beating war drums in sync:
The Republican candidates for president angrily demanded on Friday that the United States face up to a new world war, one that has breached its borders, threatened the safety of Americans and brought the menace of Islamic terrorism deep into the homeland.

With striking unanimity, they accused President Obama and his fellow Democrats of shrinking from a long-overdue assault on the Islamic State and its frighteningly effective tools of global recruitment....

“Our nation is under siege,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said at a cafe in rural Iowa. “What I believe we’re facing is the next world war. This is what we’re in right now, already.”

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seethed with disgust for Democrats, declaring, “This nation needs a wartime president.”

... Their language was almost apocalyptic. Jeb Bush described the looming threat of “Islamic terrorism that wants to destroy our way of life, wants to attack our freedom.”

He gravely added: “They have declared war on us. And we need to declare war on them.”
You know you're succeeding with your partisan memes when campaign journalists parrot them as if they're objective fact. Republicans succeed at that a lot. Here's what Barbaro and Gabriel say about Hillary Clinton:
As the Republicans spoke of the deadly shooting by a Muslim husband and wife as a clarifying moment, Democrats seemed to offer a more muddled response....

In Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday, Hillary Clinton spoke not of war but of the need to ferret out “those folks who are on the Internet radicalizing people” and called for fighting “terrorist networks” from the air and from the ground, avoiding the phrase “Islamic terrorism” and urging sensitivity toward Muslims.
Oh, I see -- she "called for fighting 'terrorist networks' from the air and from the ground" but "spoke not of war." How does that work exactly? Oh, right -- I guess she called for aerial bombardment and boots on the ground but SHE DIDN'T SAY 'WAR'!!!1!1!1!1!" It's sort of like not saying "radical Islam" or "Islamic terrorism" or "Islamic extremism" or "radical Islamic terrorist extremism" or whatever magic phrase Republicans insist that Democrats utter to prove they're not appeasers. (Gabriel and Barbaro also retransmit Republican that talking point, saying that Clinton was "avoiding the phrase 'Islamic terrorism' and urging sensitivity toward Muslims" in Sioux City.)

But on Thursday in the Times, Patrick Healy told us that voters on the trail seem to be looking for a tough candidate -- and Hillary qualifies:
With the Islamic State suddenly rivaling the economy as their top concern in recent polls, many voters are looking for wartime strategies from the 2016 presidential candidates. But after seven years of a cerebral President Obama, there is no denying that some also want a leader who radiates gutsiness and a take-charge resolve. Not simply the “strong leader” that pollsters ask about, but someone who makes them feel safe on a visceral level....

[Donald] Trump and Hillary Clinton, and to a lesser extent Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, were the candidates most mentioned as likely to strike fear into the hearts of America’s adversaries during interviews with about 20 voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first nominating contests in February.

“We need someone who understands that ISIS is 10 times more dangerous than Al Qaeda was,” said Dean Nason, a Republican in Wakefield, N.H. “Movie presidents make you feel good. Trump makes people feel good. And Hillary Clinton, she may have problems, but she knows how to survive.”

... While Mrs. Clinton denounced Mr. Trump last week for “trafficking in prejudice and paranoia,” she is calibrating her own gung-ho style of leadership to people’s insecurities.

She has proposed more aggressive actions in Syria -- like imposing a no-fly zone and ordering more airstrikes -- than Mr. Obama has taken. And while some voters see Mr. Obama as weak because he is unwilling to risk American troops and avoids blunt language like the Republican catchphrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” Mrs. Clinton is open to more Special Operations troops in Syria and has been using the phrase “radical jihadism” to try to counter the buzzwords of the right.
Exactly what Gabriel and Barbaro said wasn't enough to make Clinton seem tough impresses Healy as a sign of her toughness.

Well, if Hillary can impress some of the journos on the campaign trail with her "resolve," that's something.

It seems likely that terrorism is going to be one of the main issues of this election, so if we want to keep Trump, Cruz, or Rubio out of the Oval Office, given all the damage they can do in so many areas, it might be necessary to have a Democrat who's widely seen as bellicose as the nominee. You can tell me that the Democratic electorate will show up and guarantee defeat for the Republican no matter who the nominee is, the evidence being that Democrats have won the popular vote in four of the last five presidential elections, but the one recent presidential election Democrats didn't win was the one in which there was the greatest fear of terrorism. I don't want 2016 to be a repeat of 2004.

I think Democrats are going to need a candidate who inspires at least some journalists to write what Healy wrote on Thursday:
Many Democrats now say they believe that Mrs. Clinton would be a more formidable commander in chief than any of the men running in either party....

“I get the sense that Hillary hates backing down, that she really believes in fighting, and I think our enemies would realize that she would make life harder for them,” said Darlene Nulk, a teacher and Democrat in Lee, N.H.

... In a poll released last week, Quinnipiac found that among Democrats, 94 percent saw Mrs. Clinton as a strong leader.
So she may turn out to be the right nominee for the times -- and if it upsets you that I'm saying that, consider that the alternative will be a Republican president and GOP Congress who'll restrict abortion rights and voting rights, slash taxes on the rich, expand access to guns, gut Medicare and Social Security, repeal Obamacare, further deregulate Wall Street and the energy industry, deny human involvement in climate change, and fight every war we thought Hillary would fight, plus a couple more. "Lesser of two evils"? Yeah, a lot lesser.


Victor said...

"It seems likely that terrorism is going to be one of the main issues of this election,..."

But which flavor?
Christian, or Muslim?

I, for one, fear "Christian" white men with guns and bombs more than Muslim's with guns and bombs.

There are more of them, and they can go beneath the radar easier and quicker than Muslims can.

Maybe it's just me...

mlbxxxxxx said...

It has been clear to me that HRC is the right candidate for the Ds, and for America for that matter, for some time now. And, yeah, she's got the demographics at her back but she's also a much, much better candidate than Kerry. I worry about turnout and GOP shenanigans. That, imo, is the threat Dems face next November, not the fear factor.

AllieG said...

It is way too soon to say what the major issue will be next October. Besides, if no Republican candidate proposes a large commitment of ground troops to Iraq/Syria, their solutions won't be that much different than current policy except for louder talk. If Americans think saying mean things loudly will deter terrorists, they deserve whatever they get.

MO Blue said...

If you are correct, the price of the "Lesser of Two Evils" just went up to rationalizing and supporting another endless war.

Unknown said...

In the future, I will not have claimed to have said, Told you so, because the last time I posted something like that on the World Wide Web, within a year we'd authorized the most single most deeply disturbed and disturbing human monstrosity in American public life since Nixon, to basically go out and fuck up whatever country and its population he wished.

Steve M. said...

There is, if not a war, then a violent something between ISIS/Al Qaeda/et al. and its enemies (very much including us) that clearly isn't going to end anytime soon. This is not a flareup that will end in a few months, like the 2014 Ebola epidemic. This is ongoing. We need to have some strategy for coping with it. It doesn't have to be a spectacularly fucked-up war like the Iraq War. The Iraq War was so many varieties of fuckup laid end to end that it's almost without precedent: the wrong target, the wrong troop level, no post-overthrow strategy, people improvising a post-overthrow strategy who were stupid and not remotely versed in the history of the country and wedded to an idiotic corporatist/libertarian ideology, and I haven't even mentioned jettisoning all the low-level Baathists or torture. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, she'd have to be one of the stupidest fucking people on the face of the earth to repeat that level of error, and after a quarter century we know she's not that stupid.

marieburns said...

Re: Mike & Trip's excellent reporting: My favorite part is where they wrote, "Democrats seemed to offer a more muddled response." What they mean by "muddled," as far as I can tell from the context, is that Democrats didn't say, "First, kill all the Muslims." I suspect that when the boys realized they had reported that Republican candidates were using "apocalyptic language," "bravado" & "bluster," they had to obey the Both-Sides Goddess & find a negative way to describe Democrats' responses, too.

Blackstone said...

LBJ wasn't stupid either, but somehow got bogged down in Vietnam.. Bush was stupid and got bogged down in Iraq. FWIW my impression of Hillary is that she would not blunder stupidly into war, but that doesn't mean she (or any other sane smart person) won't get into an impossible situation. On the whole I'd rather take my chances with her or Bernie rather than any of. The GOP whack jobs and they are all. Whack jobs, not just Trump or Carson

Jay Upton said...

"A wartime president"

Hey, if Ted Cruz is saying he wants to see a democrat in the White House, who am I to say no?