that the only period in recent history when the Democrats talked a good game on national security was during a time when most people thought our security was not in serious danger? During the second half of the Cold War (from about 1970 on) the Democrats pulled back from the hard line positions of Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson. They opposed the war in Vietnam and the struggle against Communism in Central America, and were less than enthusiastic about the Reagan defense build-up. But shortly after the Cold War ended, the Democrats turned to Bill Clinton, who was determined not to be outflanked by the Republicans on defense and security issues. Recall also that in the 2000 presidential race, there was very little debate about national security. But shortly after 9/11, the debate over national security recommenced, and the Democrats resumed roughly their Cold War posture.
It might seem counter-intuitive that the Democrats would be weakest on national security when it matters the most. Until one realizes that it is then that the party can no longer mask its enduring passivity and ambivalence about America’s role in the world.
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