At the Washington Post, resident jokester Dana Milbank claims the Republican Party is no longer interested in national security, and the Democrats should try to take political advantage:
[R]ight now, Republicans are providing the comfort [to America’s enemies]. They are objecting loudly to new airport security measures designed to detect bombs hidden under clothing. And they are blocking a Senate vote on a treaty with Russia that is critical to securing loose nukes and keeping Iran from gaining the bomb.
For Democrats, the opposition’s gamesmanship with the security should present an opportunity. Republicans seem to have entered a post-post-9/11 era, in which national security is no longer a higher priority than their interest in undermining President Obama. There’s no need to resort to the demagoguery once used against Democrats, but neither would it hurt the White House and congressional Democrats to point out that their opponents are trying to weaken Americans’ security.
Republicans are “trying to weaken Americans’ security”? It’s a good thing Milbank doesn’t want to demagogue the issue!
But what is his evidence? Jon Kyl and other Senate Republicans are not prepared to ratify the START treaty negotiated by the Obama administration. Milbank never addresses their reasons, but they are not hard to identify, as Kyl spelled them out in the Wall Street Journal:
Senators will also have to assess the treaty itself, and there are serious concerns.
First, it’s not clear that the treaty’s verification provisions are adequate. Second, the treaty’s failure to take into account Russia’s enormous tactical nuclear weapons arsenal (more than 10 times larger than that of the U.S.) and the limitations it places on U.S. conventional global strike capabilities are serious flaws. Third, the treaty links missile defense to strategic arms reduction–a linkage that had been wisely broken by the Bush administration.
The administration accepted treaty language that will help the Russians argue that the U.S. should cut back development of defenses against ballistic missiles. This is worrisome less because of the explicit limitations on missile defense than because Mr. Obama has repeatedly shown weak support for U.S. missile defense. For this reason and others, senators have asked the administration to open up the negotiating record. They rightly want to understand what concessions the administration made and received.
Milbank appeals to authority in support of the START treaty, but never mentions, let alone refutes, the arguments of those who are skeptical of it. Instead, he is content with accusing them of “trying to weaken Americans’ security.” Perhaps the most characteristic feature of a liberal is the inability to distinguish between insult and argument.
Milbank’s point is almost equally silly with respect to the TSA controversy. As I have written here, experience causes me to think that the TSA critics’ concerns are overblown. And, as Paul wrote yesterday, the real question is whether the TSA’s more invasive regime actually does anything to promote security–a topic on which relatively little has been said. Milbank, in liberal fashion, simply assumes the point without offering any evidence.
Since the Democrats were shellacked at the polls three weeks ago, they and their minions in the press have been casting about for themes that might resonate with voters. They are going to have to do better than accusing Republicans of “trying to weaken Americans’ security.”