Captain Ed continues his debate with John about what to make of the jihadist’s expressions of glee over the Democrat’s electoral victory. Ed chooses to discount these expressions on the theory that
[t]he Islamists have made a culture out of spinning massive defeats into sterling victories. If the wind shifted from the north to the east, these people would claim it as a sign of Allah’s grace on their jihad even if it blew half of them into the Persian Gulf. They lie for a living and a hobby.
Yet I can think of one event the Islamists never claimed represented a sterling victory — the re-election of President Bush.
Ed also finds it “exceedingly silly to point to a terrorist propagandist and take him at his word about people who haven’t even submitted their first piece of legislation in the majority.” But in assessing the landscape John is not relying entirely on what terrorists say; he’s also taking the Democrats at their word. We don’t yet know which Democratic faction will hold the upper hand within the party, the Clintonian pragmatists or the out-and-out defeatists. But, in advance of any legislative proposals, we know that neither Democratic faction will aupport key hard-line anti-terrorism policies of the Bush administration. Or does Ed think we must discount not just what terrorists say, but also what Democrats consistently have said, and done?
Not satisfied with calling John’s position “silly,” Ed proceeds to suggest that it is disloyal. To Ed, those who take John’s view are “acting immaturely and selfishly while putting partisan interests ahead of the nation’s security.” They are obsessed, Ed thinks, with “payback” and perhaps even prepared to “rely on American defeat simply for the opportunity to regain power.” But Ed never explains how any of this follows from a simple claim that the positions Democrats have taken in the past (and say they will try to impose now that they have some power) are likely to be better for terrorists than current policy. How, for example, do expressions of concern about positions taken by the Dems harm the national security? Or “rely on American defeat?” Acting very much out of character, Ed has let his rhetoric get the best of him.
It’s commendable, in a way, that Ed wants to be high-minded, and thus is reluctant to speak ill of the Democrats at this juncture. It would more commendable if he followed the same approach when he writes about his fellow conservatives.
UPDATE: I also remain puzzled as to why Ed now views the Republicans as the “loyal opposition” (a label that has always applied to the party that does not hold the White House), and why he thinks the Democrats “govern now.” The president has primary responsibility for foreign policy, and has almost always been the central player in this sphere even when the other party controls Congress. Clinton continued to control foreign policy after 1994. Nixon ran our foreign policy during most of his administration even though the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress throughout.
Congress can, to be sure, stop funding the president’s anti-terror efforts including those in Iraq. But Ed violates his own preaching if he assumes that the Dems are likely to do something that extreme when they “haven’t even submitted their first piece of legislation in the majority.”