The Campaign Spot

Hillary Sparring With Rudy Over the War on Terror

I received the following statement from the Hillary campaign…

“There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm.  If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it’s that political rhetoric won’t do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change.”
“One of the great tragedies of this Administration is that the President failed to keep this country unified after 9/11. We have to protect our country from terrorism – it shouldn’t be a Democratic fight or a Republican fight. The plain truth is that this Administration has done too little to protect our ports, make our mass transit safer, and protect our cities.  They have isolated us in the world and have let Al Qaeda regroup. The next President is going to be left with these problems and will have to do what it takes to make us safer and bring Democrats and Republicans together around this common mission of protecting our nation.  That is exactly what has to be done and what I am ready to do.”

I wasn’t sure what it was in reference to, until I remembered that the Hillary press staffer I chatted with this morning mentioned Drudge’s headline about Rudy Giuliani referring to a second 9/11 if Democrats won. Having now checked out the story, I notice that Rudy never uses the words, ”a second 9/11.”

“If any Republican is elected president —- and I think obviously I would be the best at this —- we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.
The former New York City mayor, currently leading in all national polls for the Republican nomination for president, said Tuesday night that America would ultimately defeat terrorism no matter which party gains the White House.
“But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?” Giuliani said. “If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.”
“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”
He added: “The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”

That’s actually pretty mild. I wrote a whole book on this. Different policies result in different outcomes. If you think your policies are better at fighting terrorists and preventing attacks, then it is perfectly legitimate to say that the consequences of your policies will be fewer attacks and fewer casualties than your opponent’s. To contend that this argument is illegitimate is to say that discussing terrorism policy is off-limits, and to also suggest that our policy choices don’t matter in the end, anyway.
Where Rudy has to be careful is that we never really know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the next day, or beyond. There may be “a second 9/11″ tomorrow, or we may awake to breaking news that U.S. Special Forces have captured or killed Osama bin Laden. We think our policies are working, and so far, the evidence suggests they are – no successful attacks on our soil since 9/11 and/or anthrax. (Has there even been a major attempt since Richard Reid tried to light up his sneakers?)
But tomorrow we could get hit again, and we would have to conclude that our policies had fallen short again, and ought to be reviewed and reformed further.

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