Se­ri­ous na­tional se­cu­rity con­se­quences of GOP’s fail­ure D

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - FRANK J. GAFFNEY JR.

emo­cratic po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Pat Cad­dell is one an­gry man. His is not the anger, how­ever, of a typ­i­cal par­ti­san, seething at his op­po­nents and gloat­ing in their de­feat on Nov. 7.

Rather, Mr. Cad­dell is fu­ri­ous with the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship for al­low­ing his party to win both houses of Congress at what he rightly sees is a des­per­ate mo­ment in our na­tion’s his­tory. Pres­i­dent Bush and what is left of the GOP on Capi­tol Hill and around the coun­try would do well to heed this skilled oper­a­tive’s cri­tique — and the in­sights it pro­vides for the way ahead in such a dan­ger­ous time of war.

On Nov. 19, be­fore a ca­pac­ity crowd at the David Horowitz Free­dom Cen­ter’s Restora­tion Week­end in Palm Beach, Fla., the for­mer ad­vi­sor to Ge­orge McGovern and Jimmy Carter de­picted the elec­tion as one the Repub­li­cans lost more than the Democrats won. Above all else, the GOP failed to run on the is­sue that res­onated most ef­fec­tively, not only with their own base but with in­de­pen­dent vot­ers and even some Democrats: the grave na­ture of the con­flict we are in, and the ex­tent to which the Demo­cratic Party and its se­nior of­fi­cials can­not be trusted to man­age it.

Far from mak­ing this case force­fully, con­sis­tently and at ev­ery level of the 2006 cam­paign, the Repub­li­cans al­lowed their op­po­nents po­lit­i­cally to de­fine the “war” strictly in terms of Iraq. Such a dumb­ingdown of the sub­ject — largely ig­nor­ing the global threat posed to the en­tire Free World by Is­lam­o­fas­cists and their en­ablers — had sev­eral un­de­sir­able ef­fects.

For one, it al­lowed wide­spread pub­lic frus­tra­tion with the Repub­li­cans’ man­age­ment of the bat­tle for Iraq to ob­scure ques­tions about the Democrats’ com­pe­tence on na­tional se­cu­rity mat­ters. For an­other, it cre­ated in­cen­tives for our en­e­mies in Iraq (and, for that mat­ter, Afghanistan) to ratchet up their blood­let­ting.

The Is­lamists and other “in­sur­gents” knew that blow­ing up some­thing in Amer­ica dur­ing the run-up to an elec­tion would likely have the op­po­site ef­fect it did in Spain in 2004 — clar­i­fy­ing the abid­ing dan­ger and hard­en­ing our re­solve. They cal­cu­lated that mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort to blow up as many of our forces, al­lies and in­no­cent Iraqi civil­ians as pos­si­ble, though, would have a sim­i­lar ef­fect to the Madrid train bomb­ings: It would en­cour­age the com­ing to power of an op­po­si­tion that would ca­pit­u­late, rather than re­spond with a re­dou­bled ef­fort.

Mr. Cad­dell noted that Sen. Joseph Lieber­man’s vic­tory demon­strates it did not have to be this way. De­spite his loss in the Demo­cratic pri­mary, the Con­necti­cut sen­a­tor ran as an in­de­pen­dent on a plat­form that un­apolo­get­i­cally re­jected cut­ting-and-run­ning from Iraq. He of­fered his con­stituents a well-rea­soned, and ac­cu­rate, as­sess­ment of the larger war we are in and the im­pli­ca­tions for it of a loss in Iraq. As Mr. Cad­dell sees it, the fail­ure of too many Repub­li­can Party lead­ers and can­di­dates to do as Joe Lieber­man did and “put the coun­try first” out of a be­lief that “they could rely on get­ting out the vote and the hell with the is­sues” has led to our present pass.

The long­time Demo­cratic oper­a­tive’s rage is par­tic­u­larly in­tense be­cause he knows the sort of peo­ple to whom our fu­ture se­cu­rity is now be­ing en­trusted. He ex­pressed deep con­cern that Cal­i­for­nia’s Rep. Nancy Pelosi would be, as speaker of the House, two heart­beats away from the pres­i­dency, say­ing she is no more pre­pared to be com­man­der in chief than he would be to serve as an astro­naut on a lu­nar mis­sion.

Ev­i­dence of just how ill-suited is Mrs. Pelosi for any na­tional se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­ity has be­come man­i­fest even be­fore she was be­comes speaker. She cam­paigned ag­gres­sively for Jack Murtha of Penn­syl­va­nia to be­come the House ma­jor­ity leader. Though the Demo­cratic cau­cus over­whelm­ingly re­jected this most vo­cif­er­ous cham­pion of swift aban­don­ment of Iraq, Mrs. Pelosi will make him chair­man of the de­fense ap­pro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee — from which he will be able to harm the war ef­fort im­mensely.

Worse yet, as Demo­crat Pat Cad­dell pointed out, the speaker-elect is in­tent on en­trust­ing to Florida Rep. Al­cee Hast­ings the chair­man­ship of what many Amer­i­cans re­gard as the House panel with the great­est re­spon­si­bil­ity for our se­cu­rity, the Intelligence Com­mit­tee. Mr. Cad­dell ob­served that this is fright­en­ing on sev­eral grounds. To do so, Mrs. Pelosi had to re­ject the more-se­nior Rep. Jane Har­man of Cal­i­for­nia, os­ten­si­bly be­cause she had not been suf­fi­ciently par­ti­san as rank­ing mi- nor­ity mem­ber.

She will also have to ig­nore the fact that in a pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion, then-Judge Hast­ings abused a very valu­able intelligence tool — wire­taps — by or­der­ing them on Mafia fig­ures and sell­ing tran­scripts to the sub­jects of the sur­veil­lance. Mr. Cad­dell caus­ti­cally re­called that a Demo­crat-con­trolled House im­peached the judge for this crime by a vote of 403-3 and a Demo­crat-con­trolled Se­nate con­victed him by a vote of 69-23.

Pat Cad­dell is right that the Repub­li­can fail­ure dur­ing the cam­paign to frame the na­tional se­cu­rity is­sue prop­erly — in­clud­ing the hor­ri­fy­ing prospect of a Hast­ings chair­man­ship of the Intelligence Com­mit­tee — is sub­stan­tially re­spon­si­ble for the fact there will be an acute lack of se­cu­rity-minded lead­er­ship in the 110th Congress. Al­ready, our en­e­mies have taken heart from this turn of events. Worse yet, the lack of adult su­per­vi­sion raises real con­cern as em­i­nences of both par­ties call for ne­go­ti­a­tions with them and their ap­pease­ment via sac­ri­fice of Is­rael’s se­cu­rity.

The way ahead is for Repub­li­cans to join forces with sen­si­ble Democrats like Pat Cad­dell on a ro­bust, bi­par­ti­san na­tional se­cu­rity plan for wag­ing the War for the Free World. Ben Franklin’s fa­mous warn­ing was never more true: “We must all hang to­gether, or as­suredly we will all hang sep­a­rately.”

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Pol­icy and a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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