Ad­dress­ing ter­ror, Clin­ton plays it safe; Trump prom­ises bold change

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - By­ron York Colum­nist By­ron York is chief po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent for The Wash­ing­tonEx­am­iner.

The ter­ror­ist bomb­ings in New York and New Jersey, which in­jured 29, and the ter­ror­ist stab­bings in Min­nesota, which in­jured nine, were nowhere near as se­ri­ous as the ter­ror­ist shoot­ings in Or­lando, which killed 49, and in San Bernardino, which killed 14. Nev­er­the­less, the acts of ac­cused bomber Ah­mad Khan Ra­hami, and of Dahir Adan, the stab­ber whose ram­page was ended by an off­duty po­lice of­fi­cer in Min­nesota, brought the is­sue of ter­ror­ism back to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign trail.

There was a time when ter­ror at­tacks were thought to ben­e­fit Trump po­lit­i­cally, be­cause polls sug­gested he was seen by many vot­ers as tougher on the is­sue. But Trump is widely be­lieved to have fum­bled things badly af­ter Or­lando last June, for­feit­ing some of his ad­van­tage. New York, New Jersey and Min­nesota pre­sented an un­happy op­por­tu­nity to do bet­ter.

For Clin­ton, the at­tacks were a chance to lead, to show strength and steadi­ness af­ter a tough few weeks.

Clin­ton played it safe. Speak­ing to re­porters in White Plains ,New York, be­fore set­ting off to a speech at Tem­ple Univer­sity Mon­day, she thanked first re­spon­ders and in essence promised to con­tinue the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s anti-ter­ror ef­forts, only a bit bet­ter. She would start an “in­tel­li­gence surge,” she said, and an ”ac­cel­er­ated” anti-Is­lamic State coali­tion air cam­paign — all a lit­tle more of what Obama is do­ing.

Af­ter two acts of ji­had com­mit­ted by im­mi­grants ap­par­ently com­mit­ted to Is­lamic rad­i­cal­ism, Clin­ton, as al­ways, re­jected Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion-ori­ented anti-ter­ror pro­pos­als. “Let us re­mem­ber, there are mil­lions and mil­lions of nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens in Amer­ica from all over the world,” she said in White Plains. “There are mil­lions of law-abid­ing peace­ful Mus­lim-Amer­i­cans. This is the kind of chal­lenge that law en­force­ment can be and is pre­pared to ad­dress, namely go­ing af­ter any­one who would threaten the United States.”

The over­ar­ch­ing theme of Clin­ton’s mes­sage at the news con­fer­ence was con­ti­nu­ity with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. “I was part of the na­tional se­cu­rity team that worked with Pres­i­dent Obama to de­velop strate­gies to fight the ter­ror­ists,” she said. “So we’re go­ing to stay fo­cused on what will work ...”

Clin­ton did not ad­dress the pos­si­bil­ity that what is be­ing done now is not work­ing.

Trump, for his part, was as bold as Clin­ton was cau­tious. “These at­tacks and many oth­ers were made pos­si­ble be­cause of our ex­tremely open im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, which fails to prop­erly vet and screen the in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies com­ing into our coun­try,” he said. “At­tack af­ter at­tack, from 9/11 to San Bernardino, we have seen how fail­ures to screen who is en­ter­ing the United States puts all of our cit­i­zens, ev­ery­one in this room, at dan­ger. So let me state very, very clearly: Im­mi­gra­tion se­cu­rity is na­tional se­cu­rity.”

Trump noted that in the past decade and a half, “hun­dreds of im­mi­grants and their chil­dren from high-risk re­gions have been im­pli­cated in ter­ror­ism and ter­ror­ist-re­lated ac­tiv­ity in the United States.” And Clin­ton, Trump con­tin­ued, would sub­stan­tially in­crease the num­ber of refugees from high-risk ar­eas be­ing al­lowed into the U.S. Clin­ton also op­poses ide­o­log­i­cally vet­ting those en­ter­ing the coun­try, as Trump pro­poses to do.

Who won the safe vs. bold ter­ror de­bate in the wake of New York, New Jersey and Min­nesota? That’s the kind of ques­tion that can’t be an­swered. But some Repub­li­cans felt Trump walked away with a real edge.

“Trump looked strong, while Clin­ton looked mea­sured and weak,” wrote Curt An­der­son, an­other vet­eran GOP op­er­a­tive not work­ing on the cam­paign. “Also — we over­es­ti­mate the im­pact of what the can­di­dates say in the wake of these things. The big is­sue is that any ter­ror at­tack is ter­ri­ble for Clin­ton. It high­lights her big­gest weak­ness. Any­body re­mem­ber when Hil­lary Clin­ton’s strong­est as­set was her com­mand of for­eign pol­icy and ex­pe­ri­ence with it? Seems like a long time ago.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.