The Republican Party has decided that one of the keys to victory in the November election is to wage war on the President’s record of waging war. Their latest hissy fit comes on the heels of a newly released campaign video featuring Bill Clinton lavishly praising President Obama’s “courageous” decision to go after Osama bin Laden. Republicans are appalled that the President’s campaign would dare to use the success of this mission for political purposes. Romney senior campaign advisor Ed Gillespie was on Meet the Press Sunday going on and on about how the video was nothing more than a cheap political tactic taken on by a weakened campaign. In truth the video is nothing more than the President walking through a door that the Republicans have generously opened for him.
For some unfathomable reason the Republicans feel that attacking the President’s foreign policy record is a winning strategy. They have criticized his efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Iran. Most recently they have railed against his response to the incarceration of activist Chen Guangcheng. They have tried to portray Obama as a weak President who coddles our enemies. They have warned that his policies have made America “less safe.” Their assertions and criticisms are not only factually incorrect but they have allowed the President the opportunity to reiterate his foreign policy bona fides over and over again.
Factually, there hasn’t been a more hawkish President in decades. Obama increased the troop levels in Afghanistan and led the international coalition that ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He has ordered crippling sanctions against Iran and Syria and has ordered a carrier fleet into the Persian Gulf to ward off any Iranian thoughts of cutting off the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz. He has ordered drone strikes in at least seven countries including our “ally” Pakistan. He has ramped up special ops efforts to capture or kill Al Qaeda terrorists. And lest we forget…he ordered the raid that took out bin Laden…a decision that had it failed would have cost him his Presidency. Even during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize he talked about the fact that certain times call for going to war. This is not a President who shies away from taking military action.
Historically the Republican Party has worn the mantle of “Defender of the Homeland.” They have ceded that title to this Democrat President…and they desperately want it back. But their criticism of his record flies in the face of the facts. And when they try to paint themselves as being more to the right of this President they fall into disfavor with a war weary nation. It is an argument they cannot win.
If Republicans want to play the “economic” hand and talk about a sluggish economy, high unemployment and record deficits…they are holding three aces. But if they continue to play the “weak on defense” card…they got nothing.