Since national Democrats have literally no agenda on which to base their upcoming presidential and congressional campaigns, they continue to carp at President Bush. While it is important to defend Bush against these specious charges, it is also time to take the offensive.
How would things be different today if Al Gore's henchmen had succeeded in hijacking the election? How will they be different if one of the nine Democratic candidates or Hillary unseats Bush in 2004?
Well, it's impossible to be sure what they would have done and would do in the future, but we can make reasonable assumptions based on positions they have already taken.
At every step, with a few brief, cosmetic exceptions, they've impeded, if not outright opposed, President Bush's efforts in the War on Terror. Based on their public statements we have a right to assume they very likely would have chosen the following courses of action and inaction (unless, of course, you prefer to believe they didn't mean what they said and were only criticizing Bush for the sake of scoring partisan politic points). They likely would have:
-- approached Afghanistan and its Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorist camps with extreme trepidation, based on their stated fears that we were headed for a Vietnam-like quagmire. To be honest, I can't imagine that Al Gore or any of these other Democratic presidential aspirants would have acted decisively in Afghanistan. A few volleys of cruise missiles and a lot of lectern-thumping speeches, perhaps, but definitive action against Afghanistan truly is hard to imagine.
-- conferred greater rights on enemy combatants in Guantanamo and elsewhere, and tied the hands of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We tend to overlook the extraordinary record of law enforcement and domestic security in thwarting further terrorist attacks on the mainland. The absence of attacks to this point speaks volumes, yet we hear nothing but criticism of our domestic security efforts.
-- conferred on France, Germany and various international bodies veto power over our decision to attack Iraq. They undoubtedly would have continued with weapons inspections in perpetuity -- assuming they ever could have obtained Saddam's permission for inspectors to re-enter, keeping in mind that he didn't agree to do so until we got American troops into the theater poised to strike, which deployment they largely opposed. We may assume they would have allowed Saddam to continue to violate the U.N. resolutions with impunity.
-- not taken significant action on the homeland security front or military action against Afghanistan or Iraq, based on their relentless criticism of President Bush's deficit spending. It is objectively provable that Bush inherited an economy in recession, that the economy suffered dramatic losses because of the September 11 terrorist attacks, that we've had to spend enormous sums rebuilding a military that Bill Clinton had overextended and depleted, and that the actions against Afghanistan and Iraq cost billions of dollars. Bush's tax cuts, discounting dynamic scoring, will have played but a fractional part, if any, in increasing the deficit. So either they should tell us what part of the national security spending they would have foregone, which further wasteful domestic spending programs they wouldn't have thrown more money at despite their promises to do so, or how they would have jump-started the sluggish economy they bestowed upon President Bush. Tax increases, perhaps?
-- not taken military action against Iraq for the further reasons that they could not have predicted with certainty how long it would take and how much it would cost, nor guaranteed that our troops would be immune from terrorist attacks in Iraq following the initial phase of the war, nor that a suitable democratic government would emerge free of challenges and problems. This is based on their ridiculous handwringing against Donald Rumsfeld (and others) for his refusal to predict the "unknowable" and their daily harangues that our war efforts were poorly conceived based on the casualties and difficulties that persist despite our victory.
I could go on and on, but the point is that Democrats need to be held accountable for their criticisms. It's time for them to go beyond the character attacks and answer the question of what, specifically, they would have done differently.
As I've attempted to show here, we already know the answer to that question, and it's damning, which is why they won't volunteer it. In short, they simply cannot be trusted with our national security, which means it is far too dangerous to give them back the reins of power. As for 2004, "bring 'em on."