To understand the sheer scale of the Democratic national-security collapse, ponder this horrible fact: In the 2012 presidential election, for two months the key debate was whether the murder of four Americans in Benghazi meant that President Obama was exaggerating his success against al Qaeda. In 2016, the news cycle has already moved on from the murder of 49 Americans in Orlando six weeks ago.
It’s moved on in part because of terror attacks that have killed more than 100 men, women, and children in France, Germany, and Turkey. In the last two months, terrorists have used guns, axes, knives, bombs, and even a truck to snuff out the lives of innocents in great cities on three continents. In the last year, jihadists have killed or injured Americans in Tennessee, California, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
Terror has become the new normal. We can’t dwell on the Chattanooga shootings because San Bernardino happened. We can’t dwell on San Bernardino because Orlando happened. In Europe, we can’t dwell on Paris because Brussels happened. We can’t dwell on Brussels because Istanbul happened. We can’t dwell on Istanbul because Nice happened. We can’t dwell on Nice because Munich happened.
And to think, last week the media actually mocked Republicans for emphasizing the terror threat. Yet the media is only following President Obama’s lead. This is a man, after all, who minimizes terrorism so much that he’s fond of describing bathtubs as a greater threat than ISIS.
Meanwhile, Jihadists are laughing all the way to the bloody bank. Grant them safe havens, and they’ll use their resources to recruit, train, and inspire the next wave of jihadists. Open borders to migrants, and they’ll infiltrate the ranks of refugees. Treat any concern about terror as “Islamophobia,” and they’ll exploit the resulting complacency and political correctness.
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This is what happens when a nation replaces the Bush doctrine with the Obama/Clinton doctrine. After 9/11, President Bush vowed to deprive terrorists of their safe havens, to take the fight straight to the enemy. The result? Exactly three Americans died in Islamic terror attacks on American soil after the Twin Towers came down.
After his election, Obama — with Hillary Clinton’s help — pulled back from the Middle East, squandering gains previously made against the Jihadhist threat. The result? Syria and Iraq have been bleeding for years, ISIS has arisen, a wave of refugees have destabilized Europe, and terrorism has returned to our shores with a vengeance. In the last year, America has averaged one terrorist mass killing every four months, with other attempted mass killings in Texas, California, and Pennsylvania thwarted by alert and courageous law-enforcement officers. There are more jihadist terror cases now than at any time since 9/11.
Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, and that means she’s the candidate who owns the administration’s failures and her own.
The Democratic National Convention will be a key test of Clinton’s seriousness. As the terror threat escalates, will her party spend more time condemning “Islamophobia” or detailing Clinton’s plan for defeating ISIS? As innocent men, women, and children bleed at night clubs, office parties, fast-food restaurants, concerts, and airports, will the Democrats continue to claim that President Obama’s strategies are working? As it becomes increasingly clear that immigrants from jihadist conflict zones present a clear national-security risk, will Clinton keep insisting that we allow tens of thousands more within our borders?
Or will the Democrats deploy their typical overwrought “war” rhetoric to decry simple domestic-policy differences even while an actual war rages across the globe? It’s hard to take seriously domestic “war on women” hysterics when ISIS keeps sex slaves. It’s hard to take seriously the notion that conservatives “dehumanize” gay people when jihadists toss them from roofs and gun them down on American soil.
#related#There are signs that the Obama administration is finally aware of the Democrats’ political peril. Over the weekend, reports emerged that Obama may now be “rushing” efforts to take retake Mosul before the election, perhaps pushing Iraqi forces into battle before they’re fully prepared. A sense of urgency is welcome, but if that sense of urgency is politically motivated and leads to an under-resourced, under-supported military offensive then the administration will be risking exactly the wrong kind of “October surprise.”
Elections are rarely decided on national-security issues, but if the current ISIS terror offensive continues — or if, heaven forbid, it intensifies — then the body count will be too high to ignore. Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, and that means she’s the candidate who owns the administration’s failures and her own. She helped throw away victory in Iraq. She responds to vicious terror with meaningless platitudes. And now she needs answers that are better than Donald Trump’s. That’s a low bar, but we should never overestimate Hillary Clinton’s ability to underperform.
— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.