A retort to a ‘scurrilous line of attack’

A RETORT TO A ‘SCURRILOUS LINE OF ATTACK’…. The Washington Post‘s editorial page, not exactly a bastion of liberal thought, responds to Dick Cheney and his cohorts today, characterizing their recent attacks against the president as “ugly,” “scurrilous,” “unfounded,” and “baseless.”

The editorial notes, for example, that President Obama’s choice of words over the last year reflect a leader committed to aggressive counter-terrorism efforts. But, the piece notes, the administration has gone far beyond rhetoric.

[A]ctions speak louder, and Mr. Obama’s actions — often at the cost of enraging his party’s liberal base — have also demonstrated tenacity and pragmatism blended with a necessary reassessment of the flawed policies of his predecessors and a recommitment to the rule of law. He wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, which is all to the good given its stain on the national character, but he has delayed that goal until acceptable alternatives can be found. He has brought criminal charges against some terrorists, but he has also sent others to be tried by military tribunals. He has invoked the authority of the executive to have lawsuits dismissed because they risk exposing state secrets. In addition to the new troop deployments, he has aggressively used predator drones to strike at terrorists, including outside Afghanistan. Even before the failed attack, his administration has been working aggressively with Yemeni authorities to deal with extremists there.

Notwithstanding the gratuitous shot at the “liberal base,” and the mistaken assumption that proponents of escalation in Afghanistan are necessarily mistaken, it’s nice of Hiatt & Co. to notice.

If anything, the piece doesn’t go quite far enough. President Obama hasn’t just ordered predator-drone strikes to target terrorists, he’s also used ground forces to capture and kill terrorist leaders. What’s more, the administration has had great success in taking terrorist suspects into custody before they could launch their planned attacks, as the Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi incidents help demonstrate.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was quoted in the editorial as saying the entire Obama administration considers itself “first responders dealing with the aftermath of an attack,” while Republicans “believe in a forward-looking approach to stopping these attacks before they happen.”

Even the most rabid partisan should be able to notice that this is idiotic and the exact opposite of reality.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.