February 8, 2010

I tell you, it's hard to watch this stuff and not want to just beat your head against the wall. After playing some of Sister Sarah's fearmongering and playing the terrorism card during her speech to the Tea Baggers the other night, the panel on CNN's State of the Union discuss how the Democrats have been reacting to the Republicans deciding to try to scare the bejesus out of everyone with the trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab possibly being held in New York and with the newly elected Senator Scott Brown deciding to play the fear card as part of his campaign rhetoric.

Jane Mayer who has a new article at the New Yorker out on the subject and the fear mongering over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being tried in New York as well points out how completely ridiculous all of this is and that that AG Eric Holder is "up against two big myths right now. One myth is that what the Obama administration is doing is any different than what the Bush administration did in terms of prosecuting terrorism".

Of course as Dana Bash points out, having the truth on their side never seems to be enough to keep the Democrats from running like scared sheep instead of standing up to the Republicans since they're afraid the terrorism issue is going to hurt them at the polls. But even Chris Cillizza realizes that they're behind the curve with the public actually caring about terrorism. They're more worried about the economy.

I'm just tired of all of them treating the American people like the scared sheep the Democrats seem to be when it comes to getting reelected and any of them, no matter what party, playing the fear card. It's tiresome. It's extremely tiresome watching the Democrats cave to the likes of Sarah Palin, or Scott Brown or any of them when they go out there throwing flames. Of course sadly our media is happy to carry those torches for them, especially at ClusterFox as they hurl the flames and hope to keep the public as misinformed and afraid as possible.

Transcipt below the fold via CNN.

CROWLEY: So, true story, last night, Dana and I, because apparently neither of us had anything better to do, were watching this. And she e-mailed me as I was e-mailing something else, both with the same message, "2004 called and they want their issue back."

CROWLEY: It seems to me that all of this talk about the economy, the economy, that this other issue has slipped in about how this administration is treating those suspected terrorists and the trials in New York?

CILLIZZA: You know Candy, I think what is interesting about it is that it's an issue that waxes and wanes with the American public. In the years after September 11th, without any pressing attack or threat of the attack, as an issue, it dropped off. People didn't cite it as much. It wasn't on their mind as much, but now with the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as well as the attack, alleged attack, attempted attract in Detroit, it's now back on peoples' minds more.

And Sarah Palin is playing to a very, very passionate strain -- not clear how big yet, but a passionate strain within the Republican Party. But also more broadly in politics, that says the Obama administration is handling this in a sterile analytical way, and they need to go out there and say -- to quote Sarah Palin, her theory on terrorism, we win, they lose. Some people see it in that stark terms. And as you know in politics, if you can fit it on a bumper sticker, it is usually better than if you can't.

MAYER: You know, it makes a great sound byte, for sure, to be able to talk like that. But she has a knack for encapsulating exactly the problem, which is when she says we need a commander-in-chief and not a law professor.

She is suggesting what the Obama administration would say is a false choice. The president is not only the commander in chief to here defend the nation from any kind of threat, but he also is the defender of the Constitution. He takes an oath -- he swears an oath to uphold the Constitution, and the Constitution, unfortunately for her, requires that inside of America, you read any suspect, you take their rights. They have a right to remain silent, they have a right to a lawyer, they have a right to due process. It's not -- there is not an alternative legal system that exists out there where you could just snap...

CROWLEY: I was going to say there is the Constitution and the politics.

BASH: Right, exactly, and the problem is that what Sarah Palin said last night is resonating big time, especially among the president's fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill.

This past week, I spent a lot of time talking to Democratic senators in the hallway, listening to what they were saying on this, and there is deep, deep concern about what the president is doing. And somewhat on the policy, the whole idea of trying these suspects in civilian courts, but much more on the politics.

They feel that -- many of these Democrats feel that this is a losing issue and there is a lot of blame that they are pointing towards the Obama administration for not explaining this well. I talked to one source who said that look, they actually may have the policy on their side, but they did virtually nothing from the perspective of Democrats who have to actually run, many of them, in 2010 in November, to actually explain that this is something that they feel that is a necessary thing to do. Because Republicans are very much getting the better of Democrats and of the administration, because you could hear it from Sarah Palin.

MAYER: The situation is that the Obama administration allowed these decisions to be made by the attorney general.

CROWLEY: Let me interrupt just because interrupt because the ins and outs, I just wanted to point out Jane Mayer's article in the "New Yorker," which does do the ins and outs, so I'm just going to like establish to tell us how they came to this decision. It's a great article. You should read it.

MAYER: Well, I mean, he is very frustrated, the Attorney General Eric Holder because basically he is up against two big myths right now. One myth is that what the Obama administration is doing is any different than what the Bush administration did in terms of prosecuting terrorism.

The Bush administration prosecuted and convicted something like 150 terrorists in the criminal courts here, and three down in military commissions.

BASH: That is those people we've heard of, Richard Reid, the biggies.

MAYER: And put them away for life. And so they are doing much of the same thing as all previous administrations have done. And the track record, there's a complete myth that the military is somehow tougher and more efficient than America's courts. The track record is bad in the military commissions. They have convicted three people, one for life and two for a matter of a couple months who are freed now.

CILLIZZA: Just very quickly on the political. I think that in some ways, Dana is right, I think. There is real trepidation among many vulnerable Democrats about this. But I just wonder if they are fighting the last 2004 election, too. I looked before we came on, 2008 exit polling, among people who were very worried about another terrorist attack, John McCain won 54 to 43. Among people who were somewhat worried though, Barack Obama won 51-48.

National security and terrorism has been a fading issue for Republicans over the last few years. Now, that may well be because it hasn't been as the top of the mind. But I think if Republicans are depending on solely on this, solely on national security and terrorism to get them back in the majorities, it's not enough because you know what, look at any poll and the economy is by far the overarching issue.

BASH: And that's what the White House -- I talked to somebody at the White House last night who said if you look at the polling, I think 60 something percent of Americans think that the Obama administration is actually doing the right thing, has the right approach.

MAYER: The one issue where they completely are losing out is on trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. And the numbers are just upside down for them.

CROWLEY: I just want to throw in one thing because their whole -- the premise that they tried to sell was it is important for people to see American jurisprudence at work, that we give people fair trials. Now I want you to listen to Robert Gibbs last week on the show with John King.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker. He will be brought to justice and he is likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing and masterminding the killing of three how 3,000 Americans. That you can be sure of.


CROWLEY: So there is that whole innocent until proven guilty. And then there is -- and this is not the least of the statements that have been made. They have also said, well, you know, if he's -- what if he's found guilty? Don't worry, we will just lock him up. Well then what is the point here? We've got a dual signal from them on this.

MAYER: They have done, I think people would tell you from the Hill, both Democrats and Republicans, a poor job of salesmanship on this subject.

BASH: And that's an understatement.

MAYER: Part of the reason is Eric Holder, the attorney general, sees his job as he wants to be an a-political attorney general. He thinks especially after the last administration, it's important not to be seen as political. But the White House was divided about the subject, about what to do with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, was not keen on trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts, especially in New York City. And so you have not seen, I think, the full effort of the White House behind this.

BASH: And the one thing I would add to what you said, Chris, about the polling from the last election, that that might be true, but that was before Scott Brown, and that was also before you had Christmastime when everybody was scared to death because all of a sudden you had a guy with more than fire crackers in his pants.

And Scott Brown was able to use that and combine it with the way the administration wants to try these guys, and to say you wait a minute, you really want them to have the same rights that you do? And you talk to anybody in the Brown campaign and they will tell you that was blockbuster, that was off the charts. And that's why the Democrats are more concerned.

CILLIZZA: One of the most important things, I think, just to plug Jane's piece again, one of the important things in the piece is Eric Fehrnstrom who many of us know, who worked with Governor Romney when he ran for president, who was deeply involved in this campaign, says that the national security was critically important. Scott Brown had some level of military background. He essentially said I think we should not treat these people as somebody who shoplifted. We should treat them as enemy combatants. And that played to that populist image.

I think we have a misconception in some ways here in Washington about why and how Scott Brown won. He didn't just win because of health care. He won in a lot of ways, the populism, that national security, that I understand, meanwhile the people in Washington, they are continuing to do things that make no sense in keeping you safe. Critically important piece of it that a lot of people miss that Jane didn't.

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