Can Republicans Get Through November Having It Both Ways on IS?

As noted yesterday, the Republicans opposing the authorization to aid Syrian rebels in the fight against IS were, unlike Democrats, all over the place. Some oppose the intervention. Some want it to be much broader and violent and to deploy U.S. combat troops. And some are obsessed with congressional prerogatives in declaring and even guiding wars.

That’s all fine, but it creates a bit of a problem for the GOP in its pre-election messaging. But they aren’t letting that get in their way, as Greg Sargent notes today at The Plum Line:

The NRCC today unleashed a fearsome barrage of new ads accusing multiple House Dem incumbents and candidates of being soft on terrorists — spots that feature grainy footage that hearkens back to 2002 attack ads. This comes after a fusillade of other similar attacks, including some in ads running in key Senate races such as those in Arkansas and Kentucky.

Do Republicans really want to go here, given that many GOP lawmakers’ position is to send in ground troops, a course of action that is broadly opposed by the American mainstream?

Obama and Dems are probably somewhat vulnerable on national security in a general sense. The President’s approval on terrorism has plummeted and the GOP now holds a huge advantage on foreign policy. Republican strategists see this as a way to exploit what they see as a general sense that things have gone off the rails, and Dems aren’t doing anything about it.

“There is just this growing sense that things are a little out of control,” says NRCC chair Greg Walden, adding that Republicans are making a bid for so-called “security moms” whose national security anxieties may have been stirred by imagery of beheadings and other international turmoil. In other words, for Republicans this is all about opening up a new front in the battle for worried female voters.

Yeah, but don’t they need something of a united front? I mean, last time Republicans appealed to “security moms,” they were the party of “Let’s Roll,” that had already attacked Afghanistan and was coiling to invade Iraq.

Perhaps on this issue — as on the Affordable Care Act — Republicans can get away with running against Obummer and keeping their own ideas vague. But on the other hand, if Republicans really want to make these elections about national security, you’d think it just might prompt some media pressure on GOP candidates to say what course of action against ISIS they support and to clarify whether they support another ground war in the Middle East.

How about it., media?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.