Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Terrorism Component to Brown's Victory Helps Grayson

Much has been said about Scott Brown's opposition to Obamacare, high taxes and deficit spending. But Brown's internal polling showed that terrorism and treatment of enemy combatants was the "most potent issue," according to NRO's Andy McCarthy.

That has direct implications for Kentucky's Republican primary to replace Sen. Jim Bunning. Trey Grayson has reiterated his opposition to closing Gitmo and to giving civilian trials to enemy combatants. Grayson likewise argues that the U.S. must stay on the offense in the war on terror.

Dr. Rand Paul, in contrast, avoids the whole subject of terrorism like it is the Swine Flu. And no wonder: many of his libertarian followers, according to their comments to this blog, blame the U.S. for 9/11. Ignoring the high rate of recidivism among enemy combatants, Paul has said that he would send Gitmo prisoners back to their country of origin because it would "take them a long time" to get back here to try to kill us again.

After the attempted bombing of the Detroit-bound plane on Christmas day, Grayson quickly issued a statement. Grayson pointed out that some of the attack's planners had been released from Gitmo, only to become al Qaeda leaders in Yemen; the attempted bomber's master-minds thus are the poster-terrorists of why Gitmo should not be closed. Paul issued no statement about the attempted attack.

This is the dilemma for Paul. He has many loyal and energized followers who hate the U.S. war on terror. But unless and until Paul speaks to the issue of national security, he cannot appeal to the third leg of the Reagan coalition: voters who value a strong national defense.

Those national security voters are one reason that Scott Brown was able to reassemble the Reagan coalition. As McCarthy writes,

Scott Brown went out and made the case for enhanced interrogation, for denying terrorists the rights of criminal defendants, for detaining them without trial, and for trying them by military commission. It worked.. . . .

Yes, the Left will say you are making a mockery of our commitment to “the rule of law.” MSNBC will run segments on your dark conspiracies to “shred the privacy rights of Americans.” The New York Times will wail that you’re heedless of the damage you’ll do to “America’s reputation in the international community.”

The answer is: So what? The people making these claims don’t speak for Americans — they speak at Americans, in ever shrinking amounts. If you’re going to cower from a fight with them, we don’t need you. Get us a Scott Brown who’ll take them on in their own backyard. And he’ll take them on with confidence because he knows their contentions are frivolous — and he knows that Americans know this, too.

So while both Grayson and Paul celebrate Brown's victory, and both echo Brown's opposition to Obamacare and deficit spending, only Grayson has thus far tapped into Brown's "more potent issue."

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