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It's The National Security, Stupid

Will Democrats be able to thread the national security needle this year, opposing Iraq without coming off as soft on the War on Terror? That's the subject of my Chicago Sun-Times column this month.

John Podhoretz covers similar ground in the New York Post today, writing that "This country needs to have an open debate about the War on Terror right now - right this second - and this country will benefit from the Democratic Party taking a serious look at his its own confused stand on the matter."

And over in Roll Call, our good friend and centrist Mort Kondacke (reg req'd) laments the fact that both Republicans and Democrats are playing politics with the country's most important issue:

In 2006, and for as long as the war against terror lasts, our leaders should be judged on how they contribute to defeating the radical enemy.

They should be judged on what ideas they produce for prevailing in Iraq; on how to thwart Iran's drive for nuclear weapons; and on how to win the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims, and keep the allegiance of Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans, while still "profiling" terrorists.

Republicans should be able to say they are better at fighting terrorism without implying that Democrats are disloyal. And Democrats should be able to challenge Bush on Iraq and terror policy without claiming (as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman did this week) that "from the very beginning," the administration "saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited."

Anyone who does not believe that we Americans are all in this together should heed the words and deeds of al-Qaida leaders, who hold that using weapons of mass destruction against infidels is God's work.

UPDATE: More from Ken Bode in the Indianapolis Star:

For the sake of its 2006 candidates, the Democratic leadership must develop a convincing message that Bush policies have diminished America's safety, fueled Islamic radicalism and failed to shore up security at home. That should be possible because it certainly is true, and the campaign slogan now suggested for the 2006 campaign sounds like a good one: "Feel safer? Vote for a Change."

A clear message is especially important in this election because otherwise, like McGovern in '72 and Kerry in '04, the Democratic Party's candidates are going to be Swift boated by Rove, the conservative commentariat and by its own right wing.