When news of the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program targeting communications into and out of the United States by suspected al-Qaeda operatives (often mislabeled by Democrats and the press as a “domestic surveillance program”) was leaked, Democratic senator Chuck Schumer suggested that the leaker of this classified information, which undoubtedly compromised one of the most effective weapons we have to prevent another 9/11 attack, should be shielded from prosecution as a “whistleblower” (despite the fact that key members of Congress, of both parties, were routinely briefed on the program). That stance, of course, is in stark contrast to the Democratic leadership’s position on the leaker who revealed that Joseph Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA in a non-covert position. That leak, after all, exposed Joe Wilson’s claim that the Vice President had recommended him for his Niger expedition as a lie, and that was a grievous blow to national security.
Democrats bristle at Karl Rove’s comment that they have a “pre-9/11 mindset.” But Karl Rove was, apparently, being kind. A “pre-9/11 mindset” only suggests an innocent naivete about the dangers facing our nation from foreign threats. Many leading Democrats are well beyond that stage.
Consider for a moment, senator Schumer’s “whistleblower” suggestion. What is the term that one would normally use to describe someone who, in wartime, knowingly exposes an important espionage program (one which no one as shown to have violated the civil rights of a single American), alerting the enemy that we are intercepting their communications? Would that word be “whistleblower”?
And now we have Al Gore. Well, we’ve had Al Gore for a while, but he seems to have reached new lows. Back in October of 2005, in Stockholm, Sweden, in response to a question about how the United States would be different if he had been elected president, he blurted out: “We would not be routinely torturing people.” Normally, it is considered bad form for a leading politician to criticize the United States in front of a foreign audience. Al Gore decided not only to criticize the United States, but also to make an outrageously false accusation. Though he never apologized or retracted his statement, at least he had the excuse that this comment was not a prepared one, and, perhaps, he might have used different language had he had more time to craft his response.
That excuse, however, doesn’t work for his February 12, 2006 speech at the Jiddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia. There, the former Vice President stated in a prepared speech that in the United States after 9/11 we have “indiscriminately rounded up” Arabs who are then “held in conditions that are just unforgivable.” Furthermore, he accused the United States of inflicting “terrible abuses” on Arabs. Even using American standards of what constitutes “terrible abuses” and “unforgivable” conditions, which are far stricter than what they would be in Saudi Arabia, the questioning and sometimes detention (in perfectly normal American jails) of associates of the 9/11 hijackers, or the deporting of a few Arabs for being in the country illegally on expired visas, doesn’t come close.
Al Gore said these things in Saudi Arabia, home of Wahabiism, and home of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. Indeed, Jiddah is the hometown of Osama bin Laden. Gore said these things in an atmosphere where all over the Muslim world, Muslims are demonstrating, often violently, about cartoons printed in an obscure Danish newspaper. What, exactly, was Gore thinking about when he prepared these statements? Was he more concerned about portraying himself and Democrats as enemies of the current American administration than he was about possibly inciting more violence against Americans and American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Unfortunately, this type of rhetoric (if not often delivered directly to an Arab audience) has been uncomfortably common among leading Democrats. Recall Senator Kennedy’s speech on the Senate floor, arguing that the only accomplishment of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to place Saddam’s torture chambers under U.S. management. Or, more recently, Senator Durbin’s speech, widely publicized in the Arab world by al-Jazeera, in which he stated “describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control [at Guantanamo Bay], you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings.”
Are such comments a mere demonstration of a “pre-9/11 mindset”? Or is this reflective of a new belief in the Democratic Party that attacking America — indeed, inflaming hatred against America — is excusable behavior if the goal is to tear down George W. Bush and to bring Democrats back into power?
Dick Durbin’s comments were outrageous enough to cause a few leading Democrats to pressure him into making a belated and grudging apology. But the quoted comments of Ted Kennedy and Al Gore have been treated as non-events by the Democratic leadership. Indeed, inside the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman has received far more criticism for his support of the Iraq war than have Kennedy’s or Gore’s outrageous slanders. But then, what would you expect when the leader of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, actively works to undercut our troops’ morale by saying, while our soldiers are fighting in the field, that the Iraq war is not winnable?
The big problem with the Democratic Party these days is that it has no vision for the future because the Democratic leadership isn’t focused on governing. Whereas George W. Bush is focused on defeating anti-democratic forces in Iraq and winning the War on Terror, the Democratic leadership is focused on tearing down George W. Bush and Republicans. And all too often, as the outbursts of Dick Durbin and Al Gore sadly show, leading Democrats do not seem to think that there is any distinction between attacking George W. Bush and a United States with George W. Bush as its president. And no one, they cry, should dare question their patriotism when they do the latter. Well, maybe it is about time that we should.