During the presidential campaign, when some warned against Barack Obama's soft approach to the war on terror, I doubt they had any idea he would greatly exceed their worst expectations. But he has.
A common refrain of the Bush administration and its defenders in the prosecution of the war was that prior to the 9/11 attacks, the American government had been treating Islamo-terrorism as a law enforcement problem. The 9/11 attacks forced us, kicking and screaming, into the realization that the Islamo-jihadists were indeed in a war with us and that we would have to wage war against them, as well.
This new approach seemed to have been accepted as a necessity by both parties, and the nation united -- temporarily, at least -- around our new policy to adopt a proactive and comprehensive military approach to fight terrorism. For a time, we achieved a degree of bipartisanship on such ideas as breaking down the forced walls of separation imposed by the Clinton administration that discouraged our intelligence agencies from sharing information on terrorist activities.
Before long, though, Democrats reverted to their perennial practice of politicizing every exploitable issue and began systematically attacking and undermining our newfound war-oriented approach. They began their specious assaults, in the name of protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens, against the various programs we were using to monitor terrorists and prevent future attacks.
Their war against the war included criticizing the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program, which they slandered as "domestic spying," the NSA's tracking "data mining" of terrorist calls to and from the United States, and the administration's Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. In all these cases, their claims were eventually shown to be overblown at best -- and trumped-up at worst.
They also began a smear campaign against the administration, our military and the CIA concerning our treatment of enemy combatant detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay. This mania reached its nadir with Sen. Dick Durbin's likening our treatment of Gitmo prisoners to that of the Nazis, the "Soviets in their gulags" and Pol Pot.
But when four senators visited the prison -- two Democrats, Ron Wyden and Ben Nelson, and two Republicans, Jim Bunning and Michael D. Crapo -- they came back telling quite a different story. Nelson said: "Everything we heard about operations there in the past, we'd have to say, was negative. What we saw firsthand was something different."