Political Animal


October 22, 2011 11:20 AM The national security advantage

By Steve Benen

I saw someone joke the other day that if Republicans win the White House next year, the new president should ask Barack Obama to stick around — he should be put in charge of killing bad guys and taking down dictatorial regimes.

It was just a joke, of course. But the point behind the joke got me thinking: maybe the assumptions about parties and strengths are due for an overhaul.

At least for my lifetime, there’s been an unshakable conventional wisdom as to which parties are identified with which issues. Democrats had credibility on health care, education, and the environment; Republicans had credibility on the military. Dems are seen as caring about helping families; Republicans are seen as caring about hurting bad guys. Dems are thoughtful; Republicans are tough.

But these assumptions are clearly out of date, and Greg Sargent had a good piece yesterday asking whether Republicans still have any claims left on a perceived advantage on national security.

[B]eyond Obama’s reelection, it’s worth asking whether Obama’s string of victories on foreign policy will have a more far reaching effect by putting an end to the GOP’s dominance on the issue for a long time.

Putting aside the entirely legitimate criticism of Obama’s penchant for secrecy and his disappointing civil liberties record, the Obama administration got Bin Laden, decimated Al Qaeda, and helped set in motion the fall of Gaddafi. He has done this while taking steps to improve relations with the broader Muslim world and, now, while essentially ending the Iraq War, which once was the most polarizing issue in this country. His outreach to the Muslim world and initial opposition to the Iraq War once got him branded as weak, but in light of his larger record anyone pointing to these things as signs of softness on national security will come across as hollow, spiteful, and unpersuasive.

In other words, Obama has completely scrambled the traditional calculus. GOP criticism of Obama’s policy on Libya — and Mitt Romney’s criticism of Obama’s announcement today — sounds confused and incoherent. The neocons seem to have lost their grip on Republican candidates and officials, with many of them now veering between ill-defined isolationism and a desire to avoid foreign policy completely. The GOP seems rudderless on the issue.

To be sure, Dems still have the advantage on domestic policies like health care and education, but given recent events, it would appear the party has also claimed the credibility Republicans used to have on national security and foreign affairs.

Also note, it’s not just Obama. Bill Clinton was a celebrated international leader who won well-executed wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, while also preventing domestic terror attacks. George W. Bush failed badly on every relevant front — he failed to take the terrorist threat seriously; he mismanaged two wars; and he was reviled around the globe — only to be followed by Barack Obama, who established a rather exceptional record, not only in restoring American credibility on the global stage, but in combating terrorists, advancing counter-proliferation, and working with coalition partners to advance democracies in countries like Libya.

So, I thought I’d open this up to some discussion. Is the Republicans’ advantage over national security an antiquated notion to be discarded? If not, how much more will it take?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • DAY on October 22, 2011 11:24 AM:

    We Number One! We Number One!
    Americans don't do nuance.

  • TCinLA on October 22, 2011 11:26 AM:

    Surprise, surprise, the GOP is rudderless on every issue. They have had their heads up their ass for so long, they think they're breathing Chanel No. 5.

  • SadOldVet on October 22, 2011 11:27 AM:

    Is the Republicans' advantage over national security an antiquated notion to be discarded?

    NO! Combine the Citizens United Not Timid vs FEC decision with the fact that SIX corporations own 94% of ALL broadcast and print media in this country.

    The myths that there is a "liberal media" and that repukes are strong on national security will continue unabated.

  • Anonymous on October 22, 2011 11:29 AM:

    All true, all irrelevant. The narrative has been set and I don't think anything that actually happens will change how the MSM, or most of the population, views things.
    Who has time to reflect on politics or the world when the final of Big Brother is on and the 27th season of Survivor starts tomorrow?

  • worcestergirl on October 22, 2011 11:37 AM:

    I think this is just symtematic of how radical the GOP has become with the dominance of all of those nutty neocons. They were wrong about everything, yet had not the slightest bit of contrition or regret. All of them are chaffing at the bit to decimate Iran.

    The last time the GOP made any sense on foreign affairs was under Scowcroft in GHWB's administration (incidently Scowcroft was against the invasion of Iraq). That such a sea change happened under GWB & Cheney was barely noticed by the mainstream press.

    Right now Obama and Clinton are pretty much what used to be called Rockefeller Republicans, although centrist fetishists like Matt Miller and Tom Friedman are loathe to admit that O & C are precisely what they are looking for in a third party. (I think this is simply because they think its gauche to be a Democrat.)

    And it doesn't help that the Progressive Caucus is virtually invisible to large media outlets, so that O & C appear to me more liberal than they actually are.

    (My pipe dream is that the Progressive Caucus splits off and forms a progressive party that caucuses with the remaining Democrats. Then maybe the left wing would get a little media attention.)

  • Stevo on October 22, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Wait, Bill Clinton prevented domestic terror attacks? So what happened in Oklahoma City?

  • Ten Bears on October 22, 2011 11:43 AM:

    Historically, at least through the twentieth century, it has been a Democrat (the "Left") who put out the Wars the Reich ("Republicans") started.

  • Al B Tross on October 22, 2011 11:47 AM:

    Oh, this one is easy!!

    Q:Is the Republicans’ advantage over national security an antiquated notion to be discarded?

    A: REPUBLICANS are an antiquated notion that needs to be discarded!

  • BrklynLibrul on October 22, 2011 11:48 AM:

    I think Obama's made tremendous headway in changing the story, most notably with the killing of bin Laden, but these narrative are carved in stone. So, no, not yet.

  • berttheclock on October 22, 2011 11:51 AM:

    I have to agree with the very intelligent Iraqi lady on Chris Hayes, this AM, whose name escapes me, that it would be very refreshing to view democratic movements by citizens in the Middle East and elsewhere without the prism of military and/or geo-political and economic lens installed. Geez, someday, we might even help some movement in a country which does not provide us with oil and/or other needed resources.

  • berttheclock on October 22, 2011 11:53 AM:

    I have to agree with the very intelligent Iraqi lady on Chris Hayes, this AM, whose name escapes me, that it would be very refreshing to view democratic movements by citizens in the Middle East and elsewhere without the prism of military and/or geo-political and economic lens installed. Geez, someday, we might even help some movement in a country which does not provide us with oil and/or other needed resources.

  • biggerbox on October 22, 2011 11:59 AM:

    There has never been good evidence to support the claim that Republicans are better on national security, they just talk tough and are more in favor of Pentagon spending on aerospace corporate welfare.

    Roosevelt and Truman won WWII, and Kennedy stared down the Missiles of October, and Johnson escalated the hell out of Vietnam, as stupid as it was. By contrast, Nixon gave us "peace with honor" and St. Ronnie defended us from the vast and terrifying threat of Grenada.

  • c u n d gulag on October 22, 2011 12:00 PM:

    What SadOldVet said!


    But I have an idea:
    I had mentioned a few times that maybe we need an offshoot of OWS - Occupy Mainstream Media - OMSM.

    But what if we occupy them, they’ll do what they do best – ignore us!

    Instead, what if we pick sweeps weeks on electronic media, where they get their ratings which determine ad rates for commercials, and the same week boycott newspapers?

    Liberals can send a message to these people’s pocketbooks, which is ALL that they care about anyway.
    No FOX News, no CNN, no CNBC, no NPR, no PBS (because the last two have bent over backwards in the last decade to accomodate the right, and/or the ‘they said/they said’ version that now passes for news). You can watch MSNBC during the liberal hours in the evenings, and Chris Hayes’ show on weekend mornings. And, Stewart and Colbert, of course.

    But, NO newspapers!

    NO radio! Unless you can find a liberal host on your dial- but, you’d have better luck hunting for left-handed unicorns in Mid-town NYC. Listen to music, instead.

    Watch, as liberals tank these corporations ratings and circulation.
    Nothing except Liberal websites.

    Call it what you want:
    -‘No News Is Good News’
    -‘No News Is Better Than This News’
    -‘No News Is Better Than What These Corporations Spew’
    -‘We’re Mad As Hell, And We’re Not Going To Take It Anymore!!!’
    -'We're NOT Going To Take It Anymore!'


    Liberals, – let’s hit ‘em in their wallets!!!

    It’ll be especially effective during sweeps weeks. Hell, we could threaten them that if they don’t improve fast, not only will we do it again, but that we’ll boycott them from Labor Day 2012 until AFTER the election! That’ll might their attention! That’s their prime time for raking in cash.

    Worst case – we can have some peace and quiet, save ourselves some aggravation, and lower our blood pressure.

    What do you think of this idea?

    And, if you think it’s good, help me organize it, since I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve always been more of a march/protest guy, or the new ‘occupy idea?’

    Or, run with it yourself. My unemployment checks run out next Friday, so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to be on the internet – though, I’m willing to give up pretty much anything except that! But I just don’t know.


  • Rick B on October 22, 2011 12:15 PM:


    You describe how the Republicans have collapsed as a national political party quite well. They have been chasing extremist votes so hard that they have ceased to have anyone in national office capable of governing a nation of over 300 million people with the largest economy in the world. Rather than being a political party in a democracy the Republicans have become a tribal insurgency attempting to destroy the American democracy.

    As the Republican Party went insane the more sane conservative politicians moved to the Democratic Party to combat the Republican insanity. The eight years with Cheney militarizing the government and the social Republicans attempting to subject it to religious control has destroyed the Republican Party and threatens the American nation.

    What's left of the Republican Party can no longer function to govern in a democracy. Just look at the House of Representatives and the Republicans in the Senate. They have sold their souls to the religious right and to the moneyed elites. They will not get their souls back and the institutional structure of the Republican Party is now so foul it will never again be suitable for use in a democracy.

    The effect of this socially has been to stratify the American population into an aristocracy of super wealthy individuals, big corporation executives, and bank lenders who are predators on everyone else. The moneyed elite predators are attacking and weakening the fedral government in every way possible because the federal government is what is protecting what is left of democracy in America.

    The Democratic Party will not be able to separate into progressives and rational conservatives until the power is taken from the insane Republicans (supported by NewsCorp and the propaganda groups which have replaced the news organizations.) That will not happen until the federal government is strengthened and again protects the population from the moneyed elite predators like the Koch brothers.

    Just cleaning the Federalist Society garbage out of the judiciary is going to take a generation after the Republican Party is destroyed.

  • berttheclock on October 22, 2011 12:15 PM:

    Amazing how quickly the Right forgot how Ronny allowing Caspar Weinberger to have the USS New Jersey end our peace mission by firing her sixteen inchers in support of the Lebanese Army set off the hatred by many Muslim extremists against us. The Right, also, forgets it was "Cut and Run" Ronny who pulled out of Beirut following the killing of our servicemen and women, which was done in retaliation for said fire support. Perhaps the sight of the many CIBs being awarded to troops involved in Grenada clouded their eyes. Geez, there was a time, when one had to be in a combat zone for a long period of time to ever be qualified to wear that blue shield with rifle emblem of honor.

    Caspar Weinberger and Ronny Reagan started our problems in the Middle East.

  • berttheclock on October 22, 2011 12:18 PM:

    "The Rockerfeller Republicans" - On the west coast, there were their equivalents in the Knight Republicans, such as Senator Thomas Kuechel and Justice Warren. Of course, after Kuechel helped pass the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts, he was primaried by the far right.

  • gf120581 on October 22, 2011 12:27 PM:

    As far as I'm concerned, any attempt by the eventual GOP nominee to engage Obama on the foreign policy front is a disaster waiting to happen. None of them have any experience whatsoever in foreign affairs, save for Jon Huntsman (who won't get the nod). All Obama has to say is "I killed Bin Laden" and the debate is over. They all look like gnats compared to him.

    I mean, just for one comparison, consider him and Romney.

    Obama: Took out Bin Laden, decimated Al Qaeda, engineered Gaddafi's downfall and got us out of Iraq.

    Romney: Hid out in France as a missionary to avoid serving in Vietnam.

  • DAY on October 22, 2011 12:42 PM:

    It matters little who is in the Oval. America is a totally owned subsidiary of global corporations. And we all know what corporate charters say. . .
    Check out this OWS video.


  • zandru on October 22, 2011 12:51 PM:

    @c u n d gulag: I'm with you on "Turn Them Off"!

    Because the current government is nonresponsive (to say the least), the economic approach seems to be a good way to go.

    When is the next sweeps week? Something like this needs to be announced in advance, both to increase participation and to let the media and their sponsors know what's coming.

    Social media. Email. A website - maybe a social medium site and / or one that anyone can access. Press releases. A good "manifesto" which discusses why these outlets will be "turned off" and the kind of coverage that would be acceptable.

    These are my initial thoughts.

  • SteveT on October 22, 2011 12:56 PM:

    berttheclock said:
    Caspar Weinberger and Ronny Reagan started our problems in the Middle East.

    Actually, I think Winston Churchill started our problems in the Middle East. As Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1921, Churchill re-drew national boundaries with little regard for who actually lived inside them. It was only a procession of brutal, western-sponsored dictators that kept Churchill's mess from blowing up sooner than it did.

    And it is the Republicans' total regard for little tidbits of information like that which cause them to suck as badly at foreign policy as they do at domestic policy.

  • Bob M on October 22, 2011 1:05 PM:

    You just have to look at the Republicans to get answer. They are wimps.

  • StringOnAStick on October 22, 2011 1:12 PM:

    I googled "sweeps week" and found the next period is Oct 23 through Nov 27. However, unless you are one of the Neilson families that has either the electronic device that measures media consumption or fills out the daily diary (we did that once), you won't be counted. They do monitor what people watch via Tivo, but according to Wikipedia they haven't figured out how to apply that to ad rates yet. The whole thing seems a bit rigged, and it's main purpose is setting advertising rates so it's utility is skewed towards that end and can be rejiggered as needed to keep the money flowing.

    Given all that, I still think a media boycott is a good idea even if targeting sweeps and Neilson won't have much of an effect. Adding a "ignore useless media" component to OWS seems like the highest leverage point; OWS's determination to remain leaderless and unspecific might be an issue though.

    It also seems like most of us have turned off these sources of media already; we just need to make sure they KNOW we are doing this and will be pushing for more people to do the same.

  • Redshift on October 22, 2011 1:19 PM:

    The Right, also, forgets it was "Cut and Run" Ronny who pulled out of Beirut following the killing of our servicemen and women, which was done in retaliation for said fire support.

    And which bin Laden said taught him that Americans would retreat from the Middle East in the face of a campaign of terrorism.

    Republican motto: "Screwing up the response to terrorism since 1983!"

  • zandru on October 22, 2011 1:25 PM:

    "Churchill re-drew national boundaries with little regard for who actually lived inside them." said berttheclock

    I was under the impression that Churchill knew quite well who lived where - and deliberately drew the boundaries so as to break up tribal and nationality groups, to decrease the possibility that the peoples in each of the "countries" he had defined could ever unite in a meaningful (and competitive) manner.

  • Fr33d0m on October 22, 2011 1:26 PM:

    All I've got to say is what the heck took anyone this long?

    Bush got nearly everything wrong on foreign policy, use of the military, and every aspect of approach to the threat posed by terrorism. He didn't just make mistakes, he blew it on nearly every front from day one. And it wasn't only him. He was supported by the entire Repugnicon regime--all of it. He did so little right that nobody should have approached the 2008 election following his course. But they all did. And they did so not because it was a valid course, but because it was politically counter to what then candidate Obama had proposed.

    I'd like to point out that it isn't about the party but about the person. But the entire party and all supporting forces followed Bush and then McCain down that rabbit hole. They either knew it was the wrong course, or should have known.

    And with the exception of how the eventual 2009 candidate would run, all of that was known by 2004. That anyone can say they think now is the time to reevaluate is flabbergasting.

    And equally as maddening is how anyone can think this matters. Bush and his part also proved inept at managing the economy. That should have been clear when it took McCain so long to address the problem that the economy had been experiencing for at least a year. Does the reality that Obama created more private sector jobs in his first two years than Bush had in eight years matter? No.

    It is beyond high time we realize that this isn't about who is best, but who can sound like they're right. And thats where Repugnicons have excelled.

  • clyatonbigsby on October 22, 2011 1:46 PM:

    This isn't an assumption. The republicans are terrible at everything.

    Can you name anything they have done that was good for the country in 30 years.

    I can't.

  • Rick B on October 22, 2011 2:01 PM:


    I disagree with your statement "it isn't about the party but about the person."

    The fact is that America includes a culture of anti-modernists (mostly religious fundamentalists), NeoCons, and libertarians. Those cultures are being manipulated by powerful elites who I call the "Moneyed Elites" as shorthand.

    The moneyed elites are very powerful and have been effectively buying the federal government in order to limit their own regulation, taxation and in order to get themselves placed above the law. The source of regulation, taxation and the enforcement of law is the federal government.

    Those moneyed elites have manipulated the anti-modernist cultures to dominate the Republican Party and they are now using that party and the right-wing propaganda machine to destroy the legitimacy of the federal government unless it belongs to the Republican Party - which the moneyed elites already own because they have bought or intimidated the politicians who have reached leadership positions.

    There is no single person running successfully who can do so outside this social and political context. When you vote today you are voting for which party appoints all the senior administrators of the federal government. You are voting for which party the government will respond to. In Wisconsin the the voters who thought they were electing Scott Walker found they are being governed by the Koch brothers and the CATO Society.

    You can't vote for a single Republican politician. If he steps outside the limits the party sets on him he is primaried and shortly after than he is gone. They are either bought by the party or afraid of the party discipline. No individual Republican politician can express his own beliefs or vote his or her conscience any more.

    It's that simple. If you vote Republican you vote for the party.

  • OldUncleDave on October 22, 2011 2:08 PM:

    Next time they'll bring a suspect to the White House where Obama will personally beat him to death with his Peace Prize. That'll show those wimpy Republicans who's the baddest dude in DC.

  • Anonymous on October 22, 2011 2:13 PM:

    gf120581 said: As far as I'm concerned, any attempt by the eventual GOP nominee to engage Obama on the foreign policy front is a disaster waiting to happen.

    In a rational world, I'd agree.
    But in our world, that will never be the case.

    W's father pulled strings to keep him from active duty and get him into the Guard and even then he disappeared from active duty (it's called AWOL) to help run a polical campaign.
    He ran against a documented war hero.
    And STILL the narrative was the W was tough and Kerry was a wimp.

    Facts don't matter.

    Cheney took how many deferments (6, 7?) to stay out of Vietnam, yet he talks a good game and has no qualms about sending YOUR kid to war so clearly he's credible.

    Romeny went to France? Won't matter a bit.

  • suthrnboy on October 22, 2011 2:14 PM:

    Of course you are right, but you are also about seven years too late. The assumption that Republicans were stronger on military issues dissolved when they completely fumbled the invasion of Iraq. The political arm of the Bush administration over-ruled the military arm in deciding the mission could be accomplished (snicker) with "shock an awe" rather than a grown-up, well planned military strategy.

  • metropro on October 22, 2011 2:18 PM:

    Yes, the notion is outdated if it was ever accurate to begin with.

    Over the years, the Republicans have done an exceptional PR job. They have created an image of themselves as tough on international relations and fiscally responsible on the economy. Neither is true. Listening the MSM often reminds me of 1984. The "news" as it's portrayed is totally at odds with reality.

    When it comes to foreign policy, Republicans are loud, abrasive, arrogant and xenophobic. When it comes to economics they are fiscally irresponsible. They are inept and incompetent. Their policies brought us the "Bush fiasco."

    I think it would serve Democrats well if these points were driven home, time and again, every time they speak. The phrases "inept and incompetent" should be associated with every GOP agenda. And the "Bush fiasco" should be mentioned at every opportunity.

  • N.Wells on October 22, 2011 2:26 PM:

    "Can you name anything they have done that was good for the country in 30 years."
    DeLay resigning, Gingrich resigning, Strom Thurmond dying, Bush 1 running an inept second campaign, Mark Foley resigning, Dan Livingstone resigning, Chris Lee resigning, Mark Souder resigning, Trent Lott resigning his leadership position,
    and from the Bush administration, Scooter Libby’s resignation,
    Claude Alexander Allen’s resignation, Philip A. Cooney’s resignation, Lester Mills Crawford’s resignation, Paul Wolfowitz’s resignation, Lurita Doan’s resignation, Alphonso Jackson’s resignation, Dan Bartlett’s resignation, Monica Goodling’s resignation, Alberto Gonzales’s resignation, Harriet Miers’s resignation, Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation, Christie Whitman’s resignation, Monica Goodling’s resignation, Felipe Sixto's resignation, Timothy Goeglein’s resignation, Howard Krongard’s resignation, David Smith’s resignation, Bradley Schlozman’s resignation, Eric Andell’s resignation, Brian Doyle’s resignation, and last but far from least Michael Brown’s resignation. Anyone notice how much better the Obama administration has been than the two-scandals-a-week Bush administration?

  • FRP on October 22, 2011 2:28 PM:

    SteveT the point you make is different from Madeline Albright's

    In the year 2000 , reflecting on this notion , U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright stated:
    "In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Mosaddegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development . And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs." - Lifted from Wikipedia -
    bertthecloc ronnie rayguns and his casper certainly were an ill wind in the distracted sixteen inch gun bullying support of a search for allies . From the point of view that they reignited Ruhollah Khomeini's inspiration amongst Mid Easterners may be a way to assign a point in a stream , but not the headwaters .

    Wait, Bill Clinton prevented domestic terror attacks? So what happened in Oklahoma City?

    Stevo is it too much to ask that the following pasted statement be read as it is written ? President Clinton did prevent the Los Angeles Airport attack as well as others . I can understand a wish for clarification , but your phrasing demands that you either learn to read or direct folks to your inability to distinguish between what is on your mind and what is being discussed . It otherwise necessary to list prevented terrorist attacks along with a separate list with actual terrorist attacks .
    With Booschie it is much easier , he prevented none and welcomed all , but not all men and presidents are as flawed human beings as the stumbling Republican clowns then and now .

    Bill Clinton was a celebrated international leader who won well-executed wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, while also preventing domestic terror attacks ...

  • Cha on October 22, 2011 3:18 PM:

    @ Bob M.. "You just have to look at the Republicans to get answer. They are wimps".

    Because they're cowering on their knees below the mighty Kochs?

  • Schtick on October 22, 2011 3:41 PM:

    The whole tealiban idea that they can do anything better than the dems is the people that vote and the people that have been republicans all their lives, have bought into it lock, stock, and barrel. You can slap them in the face with the truth, proof, and history, but they refuse to see it.
    The tealiban always call dems cut and run chickens, but my question is, if the dems are cut and run chickens and the tealiban can't serve in the military because they have a wart on their ass, their daddy buys their way out, or they have better things to do, who ARE these people that wear the uniform and die for our country? Are they all independents?
    I cannot and will not support a party that tears apart someone that actually did serve our country and especially a party that goes after a vet that lost limbs. And now they have people cheering the death penalty while they claim to be pro-life? People cheering someone dying because they don't have insurance? Booing a soldier that is gay? Cheering the idea that it's their own fault for being unemployed while tealiban companies are sending jobs overseas? This tealiban party makes me sick.
    (There was a graffiti sign in Lybia on one of the pictures that were coming from there after Ghadhafi was killed. It said: First Libya, Then Wall Street. What is THAT about?)
    The dropping of the fairness doctrine and dumping the monopoly laws paved the way for the few to own it all and that includes the media. As long as the few own the media and own the tealiban, it will always be the tealiban talking points that will stay in the minds of everyone and truth, eventually, will be lost even to history.

    crapcha....keywan acres....where?

  • FRP on October 22, 2011 4:02 PM:

    DAY a very disturbing montage . I don't connect events quite so glibly as the producer of the 07:12 minute film , that doesn't take away from its disturbing core .
    Thank you for providing the link , it would have been missed here otherwise .

    Occupy Wall Street We Are The 99% ∞ Political Hypocrites (I am Not Moving)

  • jjm on October 22, 2011 4:19 PM:

    The conservative--and by extension, the GOP--theory of human behavior is quite simple minded: most people are cowards, so you bellow at them, flex your muscles, and get them to do your bidding by putting on a display of superior force.

    If they don't knuckle under, then attack them indiscriminately to show them you are not in any mood to make deals or treaties -- Nixon and the saturation bombing of N. Vietnam comes to mind.

    It's woefully inadequate not only on a personal level, but at a national and international level as well.

    How has the GOP 'ruled' the narrative, or created what Gramsci called 'hegemony'? With words and gestures designed to appeal to the weak minded, the mentally unable, etc.

    That hegemonic narrative is clearly fraying at the seams. The GOP can no longer invoke 'middle America' or 'the silent majority' to intimidate protesters (who are also no longer the minority, but the 99%). No one believes Fox's snarky efforts to smear OWS. When 58% of the people support OWS, the GOP has lost its control....

  • c u n d gulag on October 22, 2011 4:46 PM:

    I'll try to find out when there's a sweeps week towards the end of the year. That might give us enough time to organize for it.
    I like 'Turn Them Off!', btw.

    I'll remind people of this in tomorrows comments.

    And sorry I was gone for so long.
    My nephew's ride got lost to pick him up from taking the ACT's, so I had to pick him up, drop him off an hour away at home, and come back. But it's a labor of love - he's a great kid!

  • PTate in MN on October 22, 2011 4:46 PM:

    The narrative that Republicans are tough and Democrats are wimps is a hangover of the anti-Communist paranoia that fed McCarthy and got us enmeshed in the Vietnam war. The only reason we lost in Vietnam were those dirty hippies. It's the same paranoid delusion that gives Ronald Reagan credit for defeating the USSR. At the start of the Iraq war, it seemed to me that the nation was engaged in a huge therapy showdown--remember "Support Our Troops!"?--with conservatives jubilantly determined to show spineless liberals how real men win wars.

    So,a yeah, one really pointless, economy-wrecking failure of Republican-fantasy war later, the Republican tough-guy narrative has lost its luster. They come across as thugs now rather than defenders of the nation.

    c u n d gulag: Sympathy & courage re the end of unemployment benefits. It's a scary time in the USA.

  • Richard on October 22, 2011 4:48 PM:

    I always thought that the GOP national security advantage was not based on anything real. Ultimately, it all comes down to the fact that GOPers are bigger blowhards who like to make a point out of acting like childish bullies to make themselves look tough.

    George W. Bush was an incompetent clown in a flight suit who, in Iraq, picked what he an his neocon cohorts thought was an easy target to play out their he-man fantasies. Of course, it didn't end with chocolates and oil contracts, as "planned".

    Even the 1991 Gulf War, hailed as a big success, was a result of a screw up. Saddam thought he had the senior Bush's permission to invade Kuwait after talking with the American ambassador.

  • low-tech cyclist on October 22, 2011 5:19 PM:

    Is the Republicans’ advantage over national security an antiquated notion to be discarded? If not, how much more will it take?

    In a reasonable world, people would notice that the Republicans haven't had a foreign policy success in over 20 years, while the Dems have had a number of them.

    But then, the Republicans also haven't been the party of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility since Nixon, yet the media still view them as such.

    So how much more will it take? Probably the replacement of every mainstream media talking head in Washington with people who actually have a clue.

  • c u n d gulag on October 22, 2011 5:27 PM:

    PTate in MN,
    Thank you for your kind thoughts. :-)

  • rettere on October 22, 2011 5:57 PM:

    I know it's no very appropriate but you reall should see this video definition for Siri http://vifinition.com/siri-for-japanese-people/ very hilarious :D

  • Elie on October 22, 2011 5:57 PM:

    "And now they have people cheering the death penalty while they claim to be pro-life? People cheering someone dying because they don't have insurance? Booing a soldier that is gay? Cheering the idea that it's their own fault for being unemployed while tealiban companies are sending jobs overseas? This tealiban party makes me sick."

    Sad isnt it?

    Lost, dead, white people. the White Zombie movement...

    Herman Cain got a little too much tanning bed but his brain is WHITE (or narcissistic exceptionalist). He displays all white all the time. He just believes that he is entitled to being at the top -- AND that is how he describes "the top" -- the Top IS White... so he must be white, no?

  • Memekiller on October 22, 2011 6:08 PM:

    The GOP advantage on national security is as outdated as their advantage of economics. Yet Village narratives prove impervious to experience or evidence.

    We could simplify the whole discussion with Occam's Razor. Why not put it this way: Government is more effective the less the GOP in involved.

    Following on your last post, anywhere the GOP has any power at all, it is used to shut down the government until they get blanket control. What they do with blanket control was seen in the Bush post-911 era.

  • Memekiller on October 22, 2011 6:10 PM:

    Refining further: failure is directly proportional to the influence of the GOP.

  • Sam on October 22, 2011 6:21 PM:

    I also wonder what impact Michelle Obama's sustained effort to cherish and support military families and veterans has had. I bet a lot of folks on the right were skeptical when she announced at the beginning of the President's term that this would be a focus of her work. But she has been so engaged, and seems to have had so many small meaningful moments helping folks in this community. To the extent there's been a cultural distance between Democrats writ large and the military, it feels like her efforts are shrinking it.

  • T-Rex on October 22, 2011 6:38 PM:

    If anyone wonders how Republicans will handle this, just read Chuck Asay's latest "cartoon." This right-wing hack is a reliable fountain of misinformation and character assassination, but this one goes pretty far even for him. It shows Obama as a paper doll with a variety of outfits, including one exaggerated super-hero suit emblazoned "The Hawk," and labeled "Send troops to Africa to kill off bad guys outfit." Guess what the title of the cartoon is? "Out of the closet." And that, my friends, is how righties will always claim superiority in "manhood" -- with grade-school jibes at the masculinity of anyone they hate.

  • smartalek on October 22, 2011 6:57 PM:

    @ clyatonbigsby on October 22, 2011 1:46 PM: "Can you name anything they have done that was good for the country in 30 years. I can't."

    I believe it was under the Reagan administration that the national 55-mph speed limit was abolished.
    Since a hybrid at 85 pollutes less than a standard internal-gasoline-combustion-powered vehicle does at 55, I'd say that's a good thing.

  • T-Rex on October 22, 2011 8:34 PM:

    Smartalek: And how do the accident and fatality figures work out for speeds over 55 mph? Don't know? Didn't think so.

  • zoot on October 22, 2011 8:40 PM:

    It was just a joke, of course. But the point behind the joke got me thinking: maybe the assumptions about parties and strengths are due for an overhaul.

    oh please; this just 'got you thinking'? you don't already know that the meme of republicans being strong on security and fiscally responsible are both completely wrong, that just the opposite is what is true.

    sssshhhheshhhh!!!! what a dope.

  • Anonymous on October 22, 2011 9:27 PM:

    Is the Republicans� advantage over national security an antiquated notion to be discarded?

    Wrong Question.
    Ask instead if a country that now rejoices over itsInternational Game-Boy Murder spree instead of Landing on the Moon, is worth securing?

  • Skip on October 22, 2011 11:12 PM:

    CUND Gulag,
    I haven't had a TV link for years. I don't feel any less connected than others, I have my online feeds and that is a much larger more balanced world. What I was given by shutting off TV was this: more time, all that time others give to TV, I give to something else, like education. I have less stress by not listening to conservatives tell me who I am as a liberal, when I know what I am and they get it wrong every single day. I get inundated with less ads, less unrelenting consumerism, less manufactured "need".

    "Hit em in their wallet" is exactly right. It's all about the money, isn't it, in the end? And the ripple effects from canceling cancerous media are all positive, and no one need be any less up to date or any less connected because we's got technolergy now.

    PS: You NEVER give Steve up, Gulag!! Take your laptop and go to Books a Million or McD's for a cup of cheap joe and free internet, my friend. We in the comments section cannot stand to loose your sense and wit. My best to you in this aftermath of 8 years of conservatives saving the world...(for themselves).

  • bob h on October 23, 2011 7:12 AM:

    Presumably there are some powerful campaign ads in the works featuring the WTC, Bin Laden, Lockerbie, and Qadaffi. The only question is how you tastefully do this, but they should knock the Republicans for a loop and provoke howls of outrage.

  • Eric on October 23, 2011 8:49 AM:

    Don't forget their other "strength"... managing the economy.

    I noticed that the GOP had no credibility with respect to this perceived strength before I noticed they had no legitimate claim to being better on national security than Dems.

  • c u n d gulag on October 23, 2011 9:09 AM:


    Thanks for the idea and the kind words!

  • jhe on October 23, 2011 11:04 PM:

    Nixon and Ford gave us the hollow army...
    Carter ran on and began the rebuilding of US forces.
    Reagan gave us Lebanon, $700 toilet seats and Star Wars.
    Bush gave us SecDef Dick Cheney who delivered a completely broken procurement process. He also got us into Somalia.
    Clinton delivered orderly postwar downsizing Bosnia and an ad hoc but apparently effective ant-terrorist team (remember Republicans accusing him of wagging-the-dog when he went after Bin Laden in Sudan?).
    Bush gave us "OK, you've covered you're ass", destroyed the only counterweight in the region to Iran and tainted the US military for a generation with torture.
    Obama got Bin Laden.

    Republicans. As good at national defense as they are everything else.

  • toowearyforoutrage on October 24, 2011 1:14 PM:

    Sorry, stopping terrorism is NOT one of Clinton's bragging points and it's best left unsaid. I don't expect a president to stop ALL terrorism. it's random nature precludes a perfect record. I don't blame Bush for lacking a perfect record either (though his efficacy was far below that of Clinton).

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed hit the World Trade Center on Clinton's watch. Again, not placing blame, but he just wasn't that impressive.

    I'm done Clinton-bashing,... the Irish that my mother met on vacation give full credit to Clinton for the IRA armistice. That's serious foreign diplomacy, that. So add that to Bosnia which to this day we fail to mention enough that we protected innocent Muslims against Serbian Christian jihadists/Crusaders. It is Exhibit A that America has no War on Islam. If we do, we're stunningly bad at it. (Maybe President Cheney had one, but America didn't.)

    As for Obama's victory laps, let us not overlook his unmasking of the Pakistani government as a friendly party to the jihadist elements of the Taliban. Bush never demonstrated ANY knowledge that Musharraf was anything but our bestest buddy.

    I'll keep my conspiracy theories to myself, but I'm not entirely sure that the all of the Arab Spring's elements are entirely home-grown. By 2030, we may discover astounding leadership initiatives that happened behind the scenes under President Obama.