Friends in high places

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES…. Greg Sargent raised a point yesterday that bears repeating.

A striking trend worth watching: The national security attacks GOP leaders are lobbing at Obama are putting them increasingly at odds with former allies in Washington’s permanent Defense establishment, many of whom are agreeing with Obama and sometimes even condemning the GOP attacks as baseless. […]

It’s a clear sign that Obama’s national security positions (for good or for ill) are squarely in the mainstream of the D.C. Defense establishment. And it shows that the GOP’s need to attack those positions has forced Republican officials outside that mainstream, isolating them further and putting them at odds with its onetime allies in that establishment.

Exactly right. It’s a point I’ve touched on quite a bit in recent weeks: what we’re seeing is the first time in a long while that Republican leaders are breaking with the judgment of the military establishment, which in turn is siding with President Obama on most of the pressing defense-related issues of the day.

Consider the areas of disagreement: closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, ending torture, Mirandizing specific detainees in limited cases, and funding the International Monetary Fund. In each instance, the administration has drawn angry, often incoherent, attacks from the likes of Cheney, Gingrich, Limbaugh, assorted Fox News personalities, and GOP congressional leaders.

And on the other hand, on the same issues, the administration has garnered support from Gen. David Petraeus (Bush appointee), Secretary Robert Gates (Bush and Obama appointee), Secretary Colin Powell (Bush appointee), and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen (Bush appointee), not to mention the military leaders appointed by Obama to key posts, including DNI Adm. Dennis Blair and NSA Gen. James Jones.

Now, it’s worth re-emphasizing that endorsements do not necessarily reflect merit. Obama’s position on any national security issue can enjoy support from the likes of Petraeus, Powell, Mullen, et al, but all of them can be collectively wrong. It’s lazy to think the president is right just because David Petraeus and Colin Powell say he’s right.

But that’s not the point here. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) believes the single most effective attack against the White House in the GOP arsenal is national security. What’s gone largely overlooked, however, is that Boehner doesn’t just disagree with the president, he and his caucus also disagree with practically the entire Defense establishment.

If the situations were reversed, and Democratic lawmakers were on the opposite side of the Commander in Chief, the Centcom commander, the Republican Defense Secretary, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs — in the midst of two wars — we might hear a little more talk about why Dems were at odds with the U.S. military establishment.

Except, in this case, it’s practically the entire Republican Party fighting the White House, the Pentagon, and the brass.