Defender of Failed Interventions, Surveillance State Attacks Rand Paul, Justin Amash
Here's the American Enterprise Institute's Danielle Pletka praising Chris Christie for slagging non-interventionists who also worry about the domestic surveillance state:
Why is it that so many Republicans (and quite a few Democrats, too) believe the state is out to get them? The answer, for the most part, is that this administration and its predecessors in the Bush administration did a terrible job briefing Congress, looping Congress in, and helping Congress understand what exactly the federal government is up to. No surprise that those suspicious of the government for whatever reason might wonder if no one is bothering to actually read them in. That's the administration's fault, and it must be rectified.
Then there's Rand Paul, his father, and their acolytes. These are the fringes. That they have managed to latch onto the mainstream is an indictment both of the administration and those of us who believe in internationalism and understand what is necessary to fight terrorism.
The fact that almost half of the House Republican caucus voted for the Amash amendment to effectively shut down the NSA's terrorist surveillance program is a flashing red light on the dashboard — and we'd better take heed.
There's a huge helluva lot packed into just those three paragraphs. Among other things, the idea that in any way limiting NSA use of data is the equivalent of shutting down "terrorist surveillance" is a bald misstatement.
But let me focus on the subtext of Pletka's post: This sort of attack on growing majorities of Republicans ("and quite a few Democrats, too"!) along with "the mainstream" for being skeptical about abuse of state power is a sure sign that something like sanity may be returning to foreign policy and security concerns. No wonder neo-cons and interventionists are so irritable.
As I've noted yesterday in response to a piece by the Washington Post's right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin, the geniuses behind Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and more have poisoned public opinion not because most citizens are Hate America Firsters but because we're not stupid. A decade-plus of wasted lives, money, and resources is no way to endear you to the Great Boob Public. The same goes for overkill on things ranging from presidential kill lists to secret and ubiquitous trapping of phone call records and drone strikes on American citizens.
Pletka's willingness to ascribe the waning of hawkishess to bad messaging is sad and misguided. Fact is, the stuff both Bush and Obama administrations have been up to internationally and domestically couldn't be discussed openly—even in Congress!—because it's bad policy. Congress, like the American people, wouldn't have gone along with it. That's why two successive adminstrations did such a terrible job of "looping Congress in."
To get a better read on Pletka's general viewpoint and the slow-boiling anger at the end of the Pentagon's blank check, read this 2010 Washington Post col she co-authored. When you're reduced to accusing Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) of being insufficiently patriotic when it comes to the Pentagon budget, you're pretty much out of ammo.