Idealism and Spiking the Bin Laden Football

My Monday column takes on the notion that the Democrats shouldn’t have ballyhooed the killing of Bin Laden.

You might have noticed how the Democrats last week weren’t afraid to ballyhoo the Obama administration’s tenacious pursuit and killing of Osama Bin Laden. This pivotal event in the president’s first term represented what could be the beginning of a major shift in the perception of the Democrats as an inept, wimpy faction that tends to mishandle foreign policy and national security endeavors.

In spite of the Bush administration’s ineptitude on this front, there continues to be a massive “strong on national security” polling gap in favor of the Republicans. Back in 2010, a year before Bin Laden was killed, the Republicans were crushing the Democrats on this front by a margin of 27 points, 59 percent to 33 percent. Even with the killing of Bin Laden and the ending of the Iraq war, the Democrats lag behind the Republicans by a full 10 points, according to Rasmussen (admittedly, a Republican-leaning polling outfit, but you get the idea).

So there’s still a lot of work to be done on this issue even though, by all empirical accounts and given the Obama record versus the dismal Bush record, the Democrats should be crushing it on the national security polling front. The difference is obviously not the actions and policies of the respective administrations, but specifically in how they talk about national security and foreign policy successes. If it was just successes minus a political PR effort, the Obama Democratic Party would be out-polling the Republicans but, as of right now, it’s just the president who’s leading Mitt Romney by around 9 points on this issue. Not enough, obviously, to change the broader party perception held by voters that still shows Republicans as stronger on nation security and foreign policy. I suppose eight years of “bring ‘em on” hubris, jingoism and lies from the Bush/Cheney’s PR apparatus regarding the false notion of “keeping us safe” has stuck with voters.

The only way to overcome such a gap is for the Democrats — not just the Obama administration — to boast its national security posture. Hence all of the Bin Laden death talk last week… Continued here.

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  • mrbrink

    Good stuff, Bob. Tough subject matter.

    I’d like to mention that it has been liberals who have been playing the role of shoulder to cry on since 2002 and we’ve been shit on for our troubles by the right wing who sent our military men and women into the meat grinder without any credible exit plan, and without a basic sense of purpose, and what’s worse– without legal justification. It’s been liberals who fought this all along.

    It’s been liberals who protested our knee-jerk rush to Shock and Awe and sending our men and women into harm’s way without cause. It’s been liberals who sounded the alarm over inadequate body and humvee armor. Liberals who raised the issue of the hidden costs and the hyper-infusion of unaccountable contractors running around confusing military from civilian personnel in the field– muddying the symbol of the American flag. We raised the issue of Arabic translators being discharged because of their sexual orientation– something that weakened our efforts, shrouded as they were. We supported the idea of a new GI Bill in the same spirit which compels us to speak out against homeless veterans, or suicide among the enlisted. Right wing conservatives have been silent but deadly on issues of war and the human toll. From Agent Orange to Gulf War Syndrome to White Phosphorus to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder– It’s been liberals who have fought thew good fight all along, without so much as a beer fart in recognition from right wing conservatives. Even now, you see many liberals, myself included, who argue that drones are a much better use of technology for keeping our men and women out of harm’s way. Much better to send a robot into the field than a battalion of human beings.

    And we didn’t pull out of Iraq because George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or the Republican party wanted to. Barack Obama rose to national prominence raising the various orbiting issues centered around the U.S./Iraq clusterfuck. It’s been liberal progressive activism and ideology that has brought about the dramatic changes to foreign policy and national security.

    But what president Obama has been doing, exceptionally well, nearly single handily, has been to reshape the tough side of U.S. foreign policy and national security. He’s established a doctrine of smart power, overturning decades of the opposite. He’s purged our fear and hegemony-based abuse of the military by bringing together our already well established sensitive side– our empathy and common sense– with a newly established ability to take a motherfucker like Bin Laden out clean when we have the opportunity.

    Such a combination of intelligence, empathy and strength from a U.S. president is something I believe baffles the institution of common wisdom left and right.