Charlie Black is getting rapped on the knuckles for this comment:
As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,” says Black.
Of course. There’s no reason to think that after a terrorist attack, Americans would prefer the leadership of a war veteran who’s spent his entire career dealing with national security issues. There’s every chance that with Americans dead and more attacks possible, they would turn to the former community organizer who, when asked about his military response to terrorist attacks, gives a lengthy answer listing every action except the military response:
Williams then turned to Sen. Barack Obama, second in the polls but gaining fast on the frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. “If, God forbid, a thousand times, while we were gathered here tonight, we learned that two American cities had been hit simultaneously by terrorists,” Williams said, “and we further learned beyond the shadow of a doubt it had been the work of al Qaeda, how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas as a result?”
The question was specifically focused on a military response, but Obama didn’t talk about the military, or any use of force at all. “Well, first thing we’d have to do is make sure that we’ve got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans,” Obama said. “And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.”
“The second thing,” Obama continued, “is to make sure that we’ve got good intelligence, A, to find out that we don’t have other threats and attacks potentially out there; and B, to find out do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network.”
The reference to “some action” might be interpreted as an endorsement of the use of force, but in the rest of his response, Obama softened even that notion. “But what we can’t do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast,” he said. “Instead, the next thing we would have to do, in addition to talking to the American people, is making sure that we are talking to the international community. Because as has already been stated, we’re not going to defeat terrorists on our own. We’ve got to strengthen our intelligence relationships with them, and they’ve got to feel a stake in our security by recognizing that we have mutual security interests at stake.”
That was it. Obama’s answer to a question of how, as commander-in-chief, he would change America’s “military stance” in response to an attack by al Qaeda did not involve using the military.
Williams’ question deserved a brief answer: “We find the perpetrators and kill them.” Or, alternatively, “unleash hell.” Or some variation of that.
No, of course, Black is wrong. The American people would eagerly want the guy whose foreign policy advisers contend that Osama bin Laden, if captured, should be allowed to appeal his case to U.S. civilian courts.
They’d love to have a commander in chief who erroneously claims that all of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing have been brought to justice, and who praises the pre-9/11 approach to al-Qaeda terrorism, ignoring the fact that the attacks kept getting larger.
Marc Ambinder calls the gaffe Kinsleyian – meaning it’s an accidental statement of the truth.