Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Giuliani vs. the Democrats

I haven’t been able to find the entire text of Rudy Giuliani’s speech (his site is less helpful in that regard than most), but this article probably contains the passages that led Barack Obama to pull out a shrill and hackneyed talking point:

Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics. America’s mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure.

I can’t find anything Giuliani says that questions anyone’s patriotism. Judgment, yes. Patriotism, no. So much for the new tone that Obama is supposed to bring. Needless to say, also, he doesn’t join the debate with Giuliani on matters of substance.

Actually, I take that back. Here’s the "substance" of Obama’s response:

I think we should focus on strengthening our intelligence, working with local authorities and doing all the things we haven’t yet done to keep Americans safe.

Sounds an awful lot like playing defense to me.

Discussions - 12 Comments

But hasn't the justification for U.S. actions after 9/11 been that we are acting in self-defense, after having been attacked? At what point did self-defense transform into offense?

I think yours is a very poor interpretation of Giuliani's words. People who love their country would naturally want there to be no terrorist attacks, would naturally want their fellow citizens to be spared from anything like another 9/11. Saying that voting Democratic means "we are going on defense," and describing that defense as "We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense." Well, that is equating voting for a Democrat with giving up on stopping terrorists ("white flag") and not caring if there are further terrorist attacks in the U.S. ("pre-Sept. 11 attitude") Merely because Giuliani did not use the word "unpatriotic" doesn't mean that he didn't say as much. He was essentially calling a Dem vote a traitorous vote, the old "stab in the back" bit. Your literalist parsing of words here is Clintonesque, at best. Further, Giuliani's screed, and your apparent defense of it, laughably assume that the anti-terror measures implemented after 9/11 are the ONLY way to prevent further attacks, that such measures couldn't be altered in substantial ways (or completely overhauled) and still be effective or even more so, and that they have been and would continue to be truly successful (in a real, not "my-magic-sunglasses-prevent-tiger-attacks" way), in the broadest sense, without compromising the freedoms and values that Al Qaeda and Osama purport to hate and wish to do away with.

I would have to disagree, Mr. Scanlon. I believe that Mr. Giuliani's claim to playing "offense" means an active foreign policy where we go out and get the terrorists and their supporters before they get a chance to plot striking us, while his accusation of Democrats playing "defense" means that he is asserting that the Dems would not be open to pre-emptive military strikes against dangerous states or terror cells unless there is an absolutely clear and present danger. His shot at the Democrats was not calling them unpatriotic, but was more or less saying that their way of defending the nation will not be anywhere near sufficient enough as his way of defending the nation.

I also disagree that Giuliani believes that the only way to stop terrorists is using anti-terror measures implemented after 9/11. He, like most of the '08 candidates, will not be in total agreement with President Bush's programs. Giuliani will most likely support most of them, but he (like all candidates) will also bring something new to the table.

If we want to see exactly what the Democrats are bringing to the table, the first presidential debate is today (Thursday) on MSNBC at 7 PM, with several of the Democratic candidates participating. It will include Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson (my hope is that Richardson runs circles around the others and proves his mettle). Then compare them to the GOP debate on May 3rd at 8:00 on MSNBC, featuring Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Tommy Thompson. We can surely see the difference between "defense" and "offense" that Giualiani speaks about by watching these two debates.

Does this mean that the Pentagon wants to throw up the white flag of surrender to terrorists, or does it simply mean that they're considering cutting an ineffective program that violated the freedoms of Americans and cost taxpayers a lot of money, while not making us any safer? If suggested by a Dem, or a lib, or a lefty, be they ACLU members or not, my guess is that Giuliani and others on the right would describe it as such. Hopefully it will become history, but few or none on the right will acknowledge the damage it has done, the freedoms that were compromised here, and the damage wasn't inflicted by Al Qaeda.

There's no way I'd vote for "Crackhead" Barack Obama or Rudy "Sanctuary City" Giuliani. I'd vote third party, Constitution Party.

Obama, it seems, was critizing Guiliani but responding to Cheney.

This offense/defense thing, if I'm reading geopolitics right boils down to this: if we are attacked, the prudent course is to pick fights with anyone who hasn't yet attacked us, but probably will. Call it the "drunken bar-fighter" doctrine.

So what about Afghanistan? The Taliban didn't attack the United States, but we invaded the country and overthrew its government. Was that a bad policy?

It was bad policy, only in the sense that our reasons for doing so lost us plenty of moral high ground. Plus it hasn't exactly wiped out the Taliban. GOOD policy would have been to send shadowy CIA agents in to surgically take out the Taliban one by one.

Craig, your Giuliani quotes do not lead me to your conclusion that Giuliani was calling anyone unpatriotic. He articulated actual policies the Democrats largely and/or officially support and would like to implement (although he did call it waving "the white flag" in Iraq rather than "strategic withdrawal", tut-tut) - if you believe those policies are akin to waving the white flag of defeat maybe you should consider voting Republican, because Giuliani didn't pull these things out of thin air.

And as far as offense/defense is concerned, does that mean we have to wait to be attacked before we fight? Such as: al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, so that gives us the moral authority to fight one conventional war, after which we must wait for another attack before we're allowed to fight another. Is that how it works? I'm only half-kidding, because that's kind of what you guys are suggesting.

Finally, what about Iran? In all seriousness, do you not believe they wouldn't hesitate to use the bomb on Israel or the US? I do believe they would try to use it on either Israel or the US, which is why I would be OK with launching a preventative strike against them once we're reasonably sure they're close to getting a bomb.

We lost the moral high ground in attacking Afghanistan. Wow. The proper solution? Send "shadowy CIA agents". I can only assume you mean covert agents such as Valerie Plame.

Hold the (tapped) phone there, Andrew! I think you've forgotten your Rovean talking point (lie) that Plame WASN'T covert!

Also, I think piker62's nailed it as far as describing this administration's policy, which you cheer for, as little more than the "drunken bar-fighter" doctrine. "We" (aka Bush and his cronies) were oh so sure that Iraq had those WMDs, including NUKES!! (be afraid, be very afraid!), that we just had to attack them first. I mean, how far are you gonna take this policy? If we think that a country's people MIGHT elect a leader who MIGHT be THINKING about developing nuclear weapons, well does that alone give us the right to attack or invade? Also, considering that the U.S. is the world's sole superpower, and we have shown that we'll take this pre-emption thing as far as we want, well, I can understand that any country might want nukes as a DEFENSIVE measure. As can be seen from the total and complete screw-ups that Afghanistan and Iraq have been, this doctrine hasn't done squat to make us safer.

If you don't believe we should have invaded Afghanistan (for whatever reason) then we're at an impass; we clearly disagree on first principles so it's not worth continuing.

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