Matthew Yglesias:

I’m already seeing the president’s thingy about how terrorism can’t be fought with indictments alone praised on all the conservative sites. The president is right about this, of course, but he’s so right that no one disagrees with him. *** [T]his has nothing whatsoever to do with the foreign policy debate we had in 2003 about whether invading Iraq was a wise course of action, and it has less than nothing to do with today’s debate, which is about how we pick up the pieces and move on.

I suspect that insinuations that, secretly, the Democratic Party opposed using force against the Taliban, are going to be an important part of the ’04 foreign policy campaign.

Spinning the views of the opposition is hardly a Bush invention. Democrats usually imply that Republicans want to starve the poor, deny health care to the elderly, keep blacks out of college, and transfer money from the middle class to the rich. Republicans paint the Democrats as anti-family, soft on crime and national defense, and eager to raise taxes on the middle class.

To some extent, the hard core adherents of both parties believe those things are true of the other side, at least when compared to their own virtuous positions. But mainly they’re a tactic to make own’s own position obviously correct and to put one’s opponent’s on the defensive. It’s a lot harder to make a rational argument for why affirmative action is bad policy if one has to simultaneously establish that one is not a racist. Similarly, it is more difficult to oppose a war while having to prove that one isn’t soft on terrorists.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Terrorism, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    Heck, Daschle started off his part of the opposition response by inferring that because of current health care policy, a nurse he talked to will die. And he further implied that if we could just import Canadian drugs, that such horrors would never take place.