Rudy Giuliani is surging, Petraeus-style, in GOP polls; completely coincidentally, a number of liberal writers are challenging his foreign policy credentials. Liberaltarian-hater Jon Chait:
What are Giuliani's credentials? Everybody knows the basics. On September 11, 2001, he rolled up his shirt sleeves and gave reassuring speeches. He has a tough guy persona. He expresses extremely strong disapproval for enemies of the United States. (For instance, Giuliani has bragged about asking President Bush to let him personally execute Osama bin Laden.)
If having a macho swagger and talking tough about bad guys were enough to make a good commander in chief, we wouldn't have the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history on our hands right now in Iraq. And, need I remind anybody, one of the reasons Giuliani hasn't been able to fulfill his Bin Laden execution fantasy is that Bush allowed the Al Qaeda leader to escape at Tora Bora by using Afghan proxies instead of U.S. ground troops.
This is completely correct. But it rings a little hollow because, honestly, don't liberals wish they had a candidate with an instant brass-balls image like Giuliani? As liberal blogger Matt Stoller noticed, Hillary Clinton is trying to manufacture that image by lambasting Democrats who "may tell you that we don't face a real threat from terrorism." She does so (if Chris Cillizza's context is right) as a way of… defending her stance on Iraq, which as you'll remember posed no terrorist threat when she voted to invade it.
So here's the rundown: Everyone basically agrees that the U.S. faces a long-term threat from Muslim terrorists. Most people agree that the Bush approach to terrorism, of talking tough and invading rogue states, hasn't dealt with that threat. So in order to convince us that they can defeat Muslim terrorism, the two party's leading POTUS candidates are defining "toughness" and the ability to defeat terrorists as… talking tough and invading rogue states.