CHICAGO -- According to pollsters and pundits, next Tuesday's midterm elections for the 112th Congress are going to be a referendum on the nation's economic travail. Since our Fox News' "War Stories" team returned from Afghanistan three weeks ago, we have been deluged by reminders from so-called "mainstream media" outlets that the Clinton-era political axiom "It's the economy, stupid" is all that matters. President Barack Obama should hope that's true.
If Americans vote only on the question of whether they are better off since Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Obama became the potentates of pork on the Potomac, then Obama may yet salvage his presidency for another term in 2012. He and his very liberal cronies know that today's hot-button issues -- government health insurance mandates, bailouts, buyouts, stimulus debt, unemployment above 9.5 percent and plans to raise taxes on small businesses -- are all likely to diminish in importance as the U.S. economy slowly and inevitably improves.
Obama has acknowledged here in Chicago and elsewhere that though he's not on the ballot, his agenda is. Yet he's also counting on voters' short-term memory -- hoping those we elect next Tuesday won't require him to abide by his oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." If those we send to Washington next week remember that what matters most isn't just the economy -- but also preserving, protecting and defending our Constitution and our people -- this president's agenda and his hopes for re-election are toast.
The representatives and senators we elect must do more than offer poll-driven seven-second sound bite platitudes about creating jobs, cutting the national debt and reducing home foreclosures. The security of our nation is being squandered by the Obama agenda. That won't change unless those we put in Congress on Nov. 2 have the courage to make real "change" happen.
Every American commander in chief should know who our allies and enemies are, ought to be able to define victory in war, and must be willing to protect our borders. Obama has proved himself unable or unwilling to do any of those. Congress, through the power of the purse, can make them happen.
Congressional authorizations and appropriations provide nearly $50 billion of our tax dollars to foreign countries. Every cent has some kind of string attached. The next Congress must recognize that our enemies are not "criminal extremists," but radical Islamists who have declared war on us. That also means Congress must ensure that support for Israel is not withheld by the O-Team to force some fatally flawed "two-state solution" on our only democratic ally in the Middle East.
Conversely, the aid we provide to Pakistan must be conditional on Islamabad's adhering to commitments it made for quashing the Taliban along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. If the Pakistani government won't do what it pledged to do, Congress ought to cut the subsidies.
Winning the war in Afghanistan isn't as elusive or as difficult to describe as our present commander in chief has made it seem. "Victory" is a representative government in Kabul that respects the human rights of the Afghan people, is able to protect them from internal and external threats, and is a friend to the West. The next Congress needs to insist on that outcome.
Obama's strategically unsound commitment to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan next July virtually pushed the Kabul government into an embrace with Iran's brutal theocracy. Reports this week that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been accepting "bags of cash" from America-hating ayatollahs shouldn't have surprised anyone. On July 30, this column reported on a Web video produced by "Voice of Afghan Youth" that revealed the Karzai-Tehran connection. Congressional oversight committees should investigate who knew what and when they knew it, as well as what promises were made in secret sessions between Karzai and Obama.
Securing our borders also must become a congressional priority. Instead of using our tax dollars to press a court case against the governor of Arizona for attempting to stop drug dealers, human traffickers, gun smugglers and money launderers from invading the state, Congress needs to insist that the Obama administration protect our borders.
Finally, the 112th Congress must make certain the O-Team does not succeed in wrecking the finest military force the world has ever known. Amending, eliminating or ignoring Section 654 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which bars open homosexuals from serving in our armed forces, would simply be wrong. Allowing this to happen in the midst of war would be catastrophic.
The abysmal state of our economy may well be what drives most voters to the ballot box next week. If the polls and predictions are right, by Wednesday morning we will be eyewitness participants to a profound and positive change for Washington. But unless we insist that those we elect focus on the issues above, we may yet lose on what matters most: preserving, protecting and defending our Constitution, our national security and our very way of life.