Imagine a world in which a Senate Democrat had said this about Bush…

United States Senator Kelly Ayotte:

“I think we have a problem where the president’s foreign policy is being trapped by his campaign rhetoric,” Ayotte began during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “I’m very fearful as we look at the current military strategy that it is surrounding the November elections and he won’t have the resolve to follow through with what needs to be done in a sustained effort to destroy ISIS, and we’re about to repeat the same thing with Afghanistan,” she added, referring to the effort to withdraw American troops from that country.

Asked directly by host Chris Wallace if she was “suggesting that after the November election and acting tough and talking tough, that he will pull back from confronting ISIS,” Ayotte responded that she was.

“I’m very concerned about that, Chris, and his resolve in this regard.”

The double standard on national security between Republican rhetoric under a Democratic president, and Democratic rhetoric under a Republican president is more than disconcerting. You would have been hard-pressed to find a mainstream Democratic politician of any stripe, to say nothing of a U.S. Senator, so openly calling into question President Bush’s commitment to actually defeating terrorism. And that was with a President who did quite clearly use the powers of war and peace for political ends other than actually defending the U.S., and who did evidently turn away from handling the significant terrorism threat in Afghanistan in order to pursue a misguided and immoral invasion of Iraq.

Agree with President Obama’s foreign policy or not from the left or the right, there’s precious little evidence of his using the role of Commander in Chief explicitly to boost electoral outcomes. That Senator Ayotte would suggest it is appalling. But it’s one more piece of evidence that in Washington D.C. it’s OK to say and do outrageous things if you’re a Republican.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.