GOP push falters on national security

GOP PUSH FALTERS ON NATIONAL SECURITY…. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted Times Square bombing last Saturday, House Republicans apparently decided they might be able to capitalize on the failed effort politically. The push is off to a slow start.

On Tuesday, for example, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pretended to know something about national security, delivering a speech arguing that all of President Obama’s successes on the issue don’t really count. The speech was “full of distortions,” and largely ignored.

Just 24 hours later, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Va.) gave a very similar speech, insisting that the White House has been “lucky” on national security, and lacks a meaningful strategy.

John Dickerson explained Boehner & Co. may not like the president’s strategy, but arguing it doesn’t exist is “either being sloppy with his language, slippery with the facts — or both.” In reality, Obama “has spent a lot of time formulating and putting in place anti-terrorist policies and giving speeches devoted to the more efficient killing of terrorists.”

Obama has approved nearly twice as many CIA airstrikes against targets in Pakistan during his first year in office as President Bush did in his final year, killing twice as many targets. Since taking office, Obama has tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan. Their mission, as the president pointed out repeatedly in his West Point speech announcing the move, was to keep terrorists there from coming to kill Americans here. […]

On Christmas Day, U.S. forces were engaged in a long-planned attack in Yemen, the country where the Christmas Day bomber was trained. Obama’s strategy of reducing nuclear weapons and his nonproliferation policy are intended mainly to deprive terrorists of material for their attacks.

Rhetorically, Obama has also been focused on the issue. “I do not make this decision lightly,” he said about his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. “I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaida. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat.” But his most extraordinary global pitch for the use of military force to stop terrorists came in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.

When Dickerson asked for the kind of changes Boehner would like to see, he was given a list of the usual palaver: keep Gitmo detainees off of U.S. soil, don’t read terrorist suspects their rights, and no civilian trial for KSM.

This is a predictable wish-list of GOP talking points, but it hardly constitutes a national security “strategy.” Indeed, it’s a reminder of just how little depth and substance Republicans bring to the debate.

“Boehner’s charge in its present form doesn’t deserve a hearing at the adults table,” Dickerson concluded. It’s an assessment that seems to apply equally well to Boehner’s party.