Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 6, 2010

STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE.... Rep. Pete King (R) of New York, who's been out in front lately criticizing the Obama administration on national security for odd and incoherent reasons, appeared on "Good Morning America" this morning. He offered a terrific example of why Republicans aren't taken more seriously when it comes to the substance of public policy.

"You are saying someone should be held accountable. Name one other specific recommendation the president could implement right now to fix this," host George Stephanopoulos said to King.

"I think one main thing would be to -- just himself to use the word terrorism more often," said King, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.

In fairness, King went on to note a couple of vaguely substantive suggestions, but his first instinct, when asked for ideas to implement, was to emphasize rhetoric. It was, to use King's words, the "one main thing."

There are two relevant angles to keep in mind here. The first is that Republicans' obsession with the Commander in Chief's word choice is not only misguided, it's completely wrong. As Matt Corley noted this morning, leading GOP officials keep insisting that America would be safer if President Obama used the words "war" and "terror" more frequently. But the president is already using these words all the time.

One gets the sense Republicans won't be truly satisfied until Obama develops a tic-like affinity for Bush-era rhetoric. Maybe, if the president manages to squeeze in "9/11" into random sentences, Giuliani-style, his far-right critics will find something new to whine about.

The second is, for all the talk about the GOP "owning" national security as an issue, their understanding is, at best, superficial. No serious person can make the case that references to "terrorism" have any impact whatsoever on the threat of global terrorism. It's just silly.

Imagine, just for a moment, what our discourse could be like if there were grown-ups in the Republican congressional caucuses. A guy can dream, can't he?

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

I don't see why Obama would take his advice. He doesn't get any credit when he does say "terrorism." In fact, he's ordered profiling, but I guess that's not enough when Republicans want to strip search Muslim men.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on January 6, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP has nothing to contribute beyond what they read in the most recent RNC talking points memo.

That, and tax cuts, deregulation, and tort reform as the solutions for every problem.

Posted by: UncommonSense on January 6, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, I don't think -terrorism- that people are -terrorism- responding properly -terrorism- to the GOP's new -terrorism- program of fighting -terrorism- the GWOT subliminally -terrorism-.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on January 6, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I think the Republican logic goes as follows. Saying "terrorism" by itself doesn't count. You need to say "war on terror". You don't treat terrorists as criminals, you treat them as "enemy combatants". The subtext is that if you treat them as enemy combatants you can keep them in perpetuity since the war on terror can never end, and more importantly, you can torture them, because republicans believe that torture leads to good intelligence, and it feels good making people suffer.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on January 6, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

They Will Never Be Satisfied

Seriously. Obama and all other Dems can basically ignore all Republican suggestions (except to analyze them to figure out the weird obsessiveness and what it means).

As in the Clinton years, the Repubs would not have been happy until our boy Bill gave an apology, in which he publically broke down and cried, resigned the Presidency effective immediately, and committed suicide on camera, after first shooting his wife and child.

But then, they'd continue to bad mouth him for as long as it was politically lucrative.

Posted by: Zandru on January 6, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Johnny Canuck, it wouldn't matter if Obama used those terms. They'd still say he was weak on terror.

This is all a play on semantics. This is to keep the uninformed riled up. Don't you know that Democrats can't do anything right?

Posted by: pol on January 6, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

You're burying the lede. An anchor on a news show actually committed journalism and called out a GOP critic. Simply amazing. Perhaps this is the start of a trend. A man can dream, can't he?

Posted by: danimal on January 6, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans are simple folk. Scary words scare, and that's good enough for them.

Posted by: Paranoid Floyd on January 6, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

"You are saying someone should be held accountable."

I'd like Republicans to answer me one question: who was held accountable for the September 11th attacks?

Besides Bill Clinton, that is.

Posted by: Stefan on January 6, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

An anchor on a news show actually committed journalism and called out a GOP critic. Simply amazing.

That IS amazing... but did George then call King on his BS about not using the word terror more often? If not, then he failed miserably. Until someone has the balls to correct one of these boneheads on the air, the uninformed will stay uninformed.

Posted by: kanopsis on January 6, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

"One gets the sense that Republicans won't be truly satisfied until ..."

Does one?

Are we no further along in dealing with the internal enemy of the United States and its Federal Government -- the Republican Party -- than raising our pinkies and delicately wondering what might truly satisfy them?

A nuclear terrorist attack of an American city would truly satisfy them.

The bankruptcy of the U.S. Government and a plunging economy would truly satisfy them.

Doubling the number of unisured Americans in the United States would truly satisfy them.

These filth pray for liberals and Democrats to die.

Fuck them. They are the enemy.


Posted by: John Thullen on January 6, 2010 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Pete King equals - IRA terrorism, which he was very fond of and helped fund.
The republicans have given the terrorists a massive victory, given just what they want - to try to made Americans shrink in terror, and the repubs are doing the job.

Posted by: js on January 6, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Pete King is right - just the other day, a bad guy was killed by a word. A special forces soldier fired the word at the baddie with his Semantics2000 automatic rifle - the armor-piercing rhetoric-bullet killed him instantly.

So join with me and shout, "Smoke 'em out! Bring it on! Mission Accompished!"

Posted by: Ohioan on January 6, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

"That, and tax cuts, deregulation, and tort reform as the solutions for every problem."
Posted by: UncommonSense on January 6, 2010 at 11:17 AM |

Spot on, except for leaving out militarizing everything, and torture.

Posted by: smartalek on January 6, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kanopsis hit on it already - Stephanopoulos feels safe getting out there, getting edgy, because he's only taking the game one step further; from not bothering to demand any expansion on right-wing talking points at all to accepting whatever explanation is offered.

Just once, I'd like to see a 'respected' journalist burst out laughing at some piece of Republican foolishness, and then complete the insult by saying, 'I apologize, that wasn't very polite. Go on; you were saying?'

Posted by: Mark on January 6, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

One gets the sense Republicans won't be truly satisfied until Obama is impeached and removed from office for the heinous crime of being an uppity black Muslim Democratic president in sedate white Christian Republican America.

Fixed.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on January 6, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Imagine, just for a moment, what our discourse could be like if there were grown-ups in the Republican congressional caucuses. A guy can dream, can't he?"

I did momentarily, then reality bitch-slapped me hard! A girl can dream too! Loved your post!

Posted by: JahLove63 on January 6, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

OK - let me see if I get what Peter King is saying here. If President Obama would only write the word terrorism on the chalk board 500 times, this whole Al Qaeda thing would end immediately. See - it's really, really simple. At least in the mind of that idiot who represents the good folks over there on Long Island.

Posted by: pgl on January 6, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

js makes a good point.

Peter King is known to have supported IRA terrorists both rhetorically and financially. In 2000. he called then-presidential candidate George W. Bush a tool of "anti-Catholic bigoted forces." In 2008, he spoke at a hearing in Texas in support of granting bail for an IRA member who had escaped from prison in the UK and then entered the U.S. illegaly.

That anyone would now take this man seriously on counterterrorism issues is a farce.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 6, 2010 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. I can understand that someone might have sympathy for the IRA goals, but Rep. King has repeatedly spoken in court in both the US and UK on behalf of both accused and convicted terrorists. It seems that this crosses a line that should impact his credibility, particularly when he is now complaining (incoherently) about Obama not doing enough against a different group of terrorists.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 6, 2010 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

How Republican! All talk, no substance.

Posted by: Doug on January 6, 2010 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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