Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When The Rats Are Away...

Greg Sargent argues that President Obama has made a pretty massive violation of the law by not getting congressional authorization for attacking ISIS targets in Syria, but that Congress has thrown away its duties by skipping town without debating or voting on that authorization.

The Obama administration has not made an even remotely credible case for undertaking this escalation without Congressional authorization, and Congress’ refusal to hold a vote on it remains an outrageous abdication of responsibility. One also hopes the administration’s claims about terror threats are subjected to intense scrutiny. But we aren’t going to get any serious Congressional debate about any of this until after the election. 
However, one place all of this will be debated is in the context of the Senate races. Republicans have cheerfully suggested to the press that the politics of national security will again shower them with political riches, and they are running multiple ads replete with the grainy terror footage they used to such great effect back in 2002 and 2004, which is to say, at least a decade ago.

So, will our attacks on ISIS help the Democrats as President Obama displays leadership, help the GOP as they reclaim their national security credentials, help both as we rally around both the President and congressional incumbents, or help neither as a war weary nation say "to hell with all of you"?

If Scott Brown is any indication, the GOP is not going to gain much, if at all, with WARREN TERRAH ONLY GOP CAN KEEP YOU SAFE ads.

In the ad, Brown, who is trailing, accuses Shaheen and Obama of being “confused about the nature of the threat” posed by “radical Islamic terrorists” who are “threatening to cause the collapse of our country.” He then says we must “secure the border.” 
It’s true that the President’s approval on terrorism has plummeted and the GOP now holds a huge advantage on foreign policy. Republican strategists have been pretty explicit in explaining that they see this as a way to exploit a general public sense that things have gone off the rails, and polls do show high wrong-track numbers and rising worry about terrorism. If things go wrong, which is certainly possible, this could well redound to the benefit of Republican candidates. 
But for now, it’s hard to imagine that arguments such as Brown’s above are going to cut it. After all, if GOP candidates are really going to paint the U.S. response to ISIS as insufficiently realistic about the nature of the threat, then that should theoretically open them up to the question of whether they support sending in ground troops. You’d think that if the criticism continues now that operations are underway, it would be harder for them to duck that basic follow-up.

We'll see, but I'm guessing that this is going to be a wash at best for the GOP, and they know it.

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