The central problem is that if Democrats embrace the GOP framework of National Security — that “Strength” means what the GOP says it means — then that framework gets enforced and perpetuated, and it’s a framework within which Democrats can’t possibly win, because Republicans will always “out-Strength” Democrats within that framework. It’s only by challenging and disputing the underlying premises can Democrats change the way that “strength” and “weakness” are understood.And I can't think of any better place to start challenging that framework than here.
In [Jane Mayer's] telling, a major incentive for Mr. Cheney’s descent into the dark side was to cover up for the Bush White House’s failure to heed the Qaeda threat in 2001. Jack Cloonan, a special agent for the F.B.I.’s Osama bin Laden unit until 2002, told Ms. Mayer that Sept. 11 was “all preventable.” By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.’s inspector general, “50 or 60 individuals” in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects — soon to be hijackers — were in America. But there was no urgency at the top. Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director that summer, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, “I don’t want to hear about that anymore!”The whole op-ed is worth reading, as it is full of examples of the Bush administration being anything but strong on national security. But just look at that last quoted sentence while remembering how tepid, lukewarm, lame and nonexistent Democratic challenges to the Bush administration on matters of national security have been for the last 7.5 years. Given that Republicans have been bashing Democrats over the head with national security fear-mongering for 4 straight election cycles, you would think they might start pointing out that Republican governance is responsible for the event that Republicans say is the reason Republicans need to be elected.
Democrats appear "weak" on national security not because they haven't voted away enough of our rights, but because they allow Republicans to engage in the Orwellian strategy of defining failure and weakness as "strength."