Ashcroft’s revenge

John Podhoretz, in the New York Post, notes that President Bush last night took off the gloves and not only defended the much-maligned Patriot Act, but signaled that it will be a major issue in November. As Podhoretz observes, “Democrats running for president, particularly Kerry, have attacked the president for not doing enough to protect the homeland. And yet they have been attacking the Patriot Act – which is the key domestic component of the War on Terror – for being too draconian. They all describe it as a frightening assault on civil liberties and so on, and act as though it simply sprang full-grown and unchecked from the brain of John Ashcroft. In fact, the Patriot Act passed the U.S. Senate by a margin of, get this, 98 to 1 – including the “yea” votes of Sens. Kerry and Edwards. And make no mistake: They have [attacked the Act] because the leftist Democratic base has demanded it of them.” But in pleasing the left, and indulging their own prejudices, Kerry and the gang have left themselves vulnerable. As Podhoretz puts it, “What the Democratic Left finds appealing, the American mainstream voter may find absolutely appalling. The criticism of the Patriot Act runs the risk of reinforcing the morally unappealing image of the Democratic Party of the 1980s: the party that was both hostile to law enforcement and weak on national defense.”
If they take a pounding over their assault on the Patriot Act, expect the Democrats once again to complain that the Republicans have politicized the war on terrorism and even questioned their patriotism. The Dems seem to believe that, because they are “high-minded,” they should have the right to trade-off increased homeland security for their vision of enhanced civil liberties, and to demonize who don’t agree with them, without being questioned about the likely consequences of the trade-off. In November, they may well be reminded that they have no such right.

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