What Rudy Got Right

A reader writes:

In his speech yesterday Rudy Giuliani got one thing right: "The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us."

Whereas your lambasting of Bush's post-9/11 blunders and executive overreach comes from an understanding of how critical it is to win the whole wider war against Islamist extremism, do not for a second assume the average Democrat shares your concerns.

Every one of my moderately liberal Democrat friends dismiss the Islamist war on the West. To them it's "not really a war" at all, just manipulative right wing fear-mongering and jingoism "like the Cold War." Relentless violence by Muslim extremists around the world accounts for nothing but evidence that the US needs to mind its own business, maybe sign Kyoto and raise the minimum wage while it's at it. They seem to have zero grasp that we have real enemies with agendas of their own, that we can lose.

And I cannot think of a single Democratic politician who has made a speech about the Islamist jihadist threat in-and-of-itself, unless it is to criticize Bush's response to it. What's the Democrats' big signature issue right now? Global warming. You seem to regularly underestimate the level of denial at the heart of contemporary liberalism, its need to remain comfortable with it's own fantasies. Today's Democratic Party today is not Truman's. They don't get the existential threat posed by jihadists because they don't want to get it.

I expect another depressing choice in 2008 like we had in 2004: between a tough, stupid, overbearing and ham-fisted Republican, or a squishy, naïve, apologetic and distracted Democrat.

Well: I hope not. I did find the silly whining about Giuliani's bluster somewhat lame. But I guess I don't believe that a Democratic president tasked with protecting this country will somehow go soft on terror. It makes no sense. The threat is real, and the minute after his or her first security briefing, a Democratic president would see that. Tony Blair did. He's a Clinton Democrat with a British accent (and further to the left than most Democrats on issues like healthcare). For all my dislike of Senator Clinton, I don't for a minute doubt she'd be vigilant against terror. It was her state that was attacked, remember. Obama? I'd like a more robust and positive vision for how we defeat al Qaeda. But he has been proven right about Iraq. We'd be more secure now if we'd followed his advice. We can and should debate tactics in the war. And we should absolutely demand positive policies for winning the war from the Dems. But after the mess Bush has made of the war thus far, I don't see why all the defensiveness should be coming from the Dems. Maybe it's telling that it still is.