Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Time Online highlights Fighting Dem Joe Sestak
Can the Dems Win on National Security?It's been their Achilles' heel for years. But as the mid-term elections approach and Republicans continue to stumble, Americans may finally trust Democrats to protect the home frontBy MASSIMO CALABRESI
Posted Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006
No one on Capitol Hill, least of all the Democrats, seems to remember the last time Americans trusted both major parties equally to keep them safe. Ever since 9/11, the Republicans have rarely failed to capitalize on their de facto position as the party of national security. But with six months to go before the mid-term elections, the battle over national security and politics may well be at a tipping point. Last week an AP-Ipsos poll found that American adults were evenly divided on whether Democrats or Republicans could do a better job protecting the country. Likewise, on Monday a Washington Post-ABC News poll found Americans split down the middle when asked which party was better qualified to handle terrorism.
Mind you, these days saying the Democrats are just as qualified as Republicans to handle national security is not exactly a compliment. Over the last six months, the GOP has seemed to have nothing but lapses on that all-important front, from the deteriorating situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, and the Dubai ports deal, to new revelations about the President's role in the leaking of pre-war intelligence, his warrantless wiretapping program and, last week, Congress' inability to pass a border security bill.
Still, most Congressional races are won or lost at the local level, so for now the Democrats may be able to get away without a commanding national figure like Sam Nunn or George Mitchell. And they certainly have plenty of impressive local candidates on tickets around the country for the fall, including more than 40 military vets. One good example is Joe Sestak, decorated three-star admiral, family man, and naval commander straight from Central Casting. On his website, just above the picture of him in Navy whites briefing President Clinton in the Oval Office, is a typical resume line: "As the [George Washington] Battle Group Commander, he led an international coalition force of 30 U.S. and allied ships and 15,000 sailors, exercising command of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as senior diplomatic engagements throughout Southwest Asia, Europe and Africa." A giddy Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says Sestak, "neutralizes the national security issue."