February 23rd, 2006at 08:20pm Posted by Eli
Media Matters (by way of Atrios) calls out Russert for flogging the Republican spin that the Democrats are soft on national security, and are just trying to score cheap political points by objecting to the sellout of America’s ports to UAOBLBFFE:
During the interview, Russert asserted that Democrats are acting on what “they have learned from the Bush administration” about the need for a “post-September 11th mentality,” and by objecting to the DPW deal, they are “playing it.” He said further, “Democrats believe they can look tough on national security” by opposing the current port deal.
However, in suggesting that Democrats have now found a national security issue they can use for political gain, Russert ignored the fact that, for the past several years, Democrats have stressed the need for greater port security and have urged Congress and the administration to act….
Furthermore, most Republicans in Congress have resisted Democrats’ efforts to secure U.S. ports. As the Senate Democratic Policy Committee has documented, since 9-11, Senate Republicans have voted to defeat Democratic measures to increase funding for port security. For example, Schumer’s amendment to the 2004 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill to provide $70 million for research and development to stop nuclear materials from entering U.S. ports was defeated by a 51-45 near-party-line vote. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) introduced an amendment to the same bill that would have provided $100 million in port and maritime security grants. The Republican Senate rejected Byrd’s measure by a near party-line vote of 51-45. Republicans also defeated former Sen. Ernest Hollings’s (D-SC) amendment to the 2004 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which would have provided $300 million in maritime security grants, by a 50-48 largely party-line vote. In addition, for the 2003 War Supplemental Appropriations bill, Hollings’s amendment to increase port security funding by $1 billion was defeated by a 52-47 vote largely along party lines.
And as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has noted, many of the Senate Republicans now calling for the Bush administration to revoke the DPW port deal have continually voted against Democratic attempts to strengthen port security in the United States.
I know it’s probably too much to hope for, but this is the kind of thing the Democrats need to make hay on come November and 2008. Yes, the Republicans have a prohibitive majority and can push through (or block) almost anything they want, but the Democrats have to hold them electorally accountable for those votes. And since they were all basically party-line votes against port security, that means a whole lot of incumbent Republicans are vulnerable on this.
I want to see Democratic candidates taking on Republican incumbents with ad campaigns highlighting all the Republican’s votes against national security and questioning whether the Republicans are really keeping the country safe. And if the Republican has accused Democrats of posturing, that’s even better: bracket the vote information with “Joe Republican says Democrats are using the ports controversy to pretend they’re tough on national security. [insert voting history here] Now who’s pretending?”
Of course, calling Republicans weak on security would be mean and impolite, so it’ll probably never happen. But I thought I’d throw some free advice out there anyway, just in case someone wants to display some ballitude.
Look, if the Republicans want to fuck up the country and leave us exposed to terrorists, fine, there’s not much Democrats can do. But make them own it.