Commentary Magazine


McConnell vs. Obama on Terror Policies

This Politico report pronounces:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has settled in on his election-year strategy: Identify issues that unite his caucus but divide the other party, then use them to drive a wedge between the White House and congressional Democrats. At the top of his list: the administration’s handling of terrorism cases.

Well, it could be, you know, that McConnell, as most conservatives do, actually believes that the Obama terrorism policies are dangerous and unworkable and opposes them not as part of an election stunt but because he thinks it’s folly to close Guantanamo, try KSM in America, declare war on our CIA, cease enhanced interrogation techniques, and Mirandize terrorists. Politico nevertheless picks up and runs with the Obami line here — namely, that the Republican opposition to Obama’s terrorism policies is “political” rather than principled. The normal process of seeking bipartisan support to achieve policy goals is transformed into political gamesmanship in Politico’s account: “McConnell hopes moderate Democrats will join Republicans in blocking funding for any civilian trials of terrorism suspects — a would-be GOP victory the party’s candidates could trumpet on the campaign trail throughout this election year.”

Well, if McConnell’s issue has political legs, it is because the Republican opposition to Obama’s policies has tapped into a great unease among Americans about Obama’s approach to the war waged by Islamic fascists on our civilization. But rather than address the factual anomalies in the Obami’s ever-changing accounts or consider the public attitude toward the same, Politico is content to re-run a common bit of Obami spin: the Republicans are the party of “no,” obstructionists and craven political creatures.

McConnell has from the get-go led the charge against Obama’s misguided policies. He did it in a non-election year and when Obama’s approval ratings were in the 70s. And he’s doing it now. If it has the benefit of rallying conservatives and independents who have recoiled against the criminalization of our approach to terrorism, there is nothing nefarious in that. This is how politics works and how, in a democratic system, the governing majority is tempered and turned away from extreme and foolhardy policies.

But Politico — the insiders’ guide to the Beltway — does us a favor by giving us a peek at just how the Obami look at these things. There is never any soul-searching on the merits of their policy choices and or any inclination to credit the opposition with raising legitimate criticism. It is what has gotten the Obami in trouble and what will prove to be their undoing. If McConnell succeeds in stopping the Obami in their tracks, Politico would deem that outcome a “political win.” The rest of us would consider it a boon to the safety and security of the American people.