Beyond Chutzpah: Cheney Implies Terrorists Are Happy Lieberman Lost

At a time when the real enemies in the war on terror have reared their murderous heads (exploding shampoo? no need to sex that up), to hear Dick Cheney and company using illogical, over-the-top, fear-mongering rhetoric conflating Ned Lamont's victory with the war on terror is as deeply offensive as it is jaw-droppingly outrageous.

Chutzpah doesn't even begin to describe the Vice President of the United States suggesting that the outcome of the Connecticut primary might embolden "al Qaeda types". Sure, and the final tally on So You Think You Can Dance will really give them the greenlight: "Travis beat Benji? The infidels must die!"

The argument is as phony as Joe Lieberman's claim that he's running as an independent for the sake of his party and his country.

The GOP message machine knows how ludicrous it is to keep tying the war in Iraq to the war on terror, but they also know how effective it has been. So there they go again, with Cheney claiming that Lieberman was "pushed aside because of his willingness to support an aggressive posture in terms of our national security."

Cheney knows damn well that, far from making us safer, "an aggressive posture" on Iraq has had the exact opposite effect. In a survey of 100 top foreign-policy experts (both Republicans and Democrats), 84 believed that we're losing the war on terror and 87 thought Iraq has had a negative impact on our efforts to defeat terrorists.

Here's the bottom line: Ned Lamont ran against the war in Iraq, a war that Joe Lieberman vehemently supported -- and still supports. A war that 60 percent of Americans are against. A war that is the defining foreign policy initiative of the Bush administration -- an initiative that has been an abject failure on every level. A war that has put the GOP's back against the electoral wall. So it's firing back with it's favorite weapon -- fear -- trying to make the case that being against the war somehow makes Lamont soft on national security or, as RNC chair Ken Mehlman put it, "a leading proponent of the isolationist, defeatist, blame-America-first philosophy."

Talk about desperate. So do Cheney/Rove/Mehlman really believe that 60 percent of the public are blame-America-firsters? Or that because 60 percent of us agree that Iraq is a disaster, we somehow don't have "the will" to, in Cheney's words, "stay in the fight and complete the task" of taking on the terrorists -- and thus are encouraging al Qaeda types?

Of course not. They know being against the war in Iraq doesn't mean you are against fighting the war on terror. It means you are against a failed policy that has created more terrorists than it has killed, that has cost America 2,591 lives and $305 billion dollars, that has thrown Iraq into a bloody sectarian civil war, and that has so lessened our standing abroad that we are unable to be a real power broker in an exploding Middle East.

You want to know what really emboldens our enemies? It's not Ned Lamont beating Joe Lieberman; it's the idea of an impotent United States so over-extended and bogged down in Iraq that it has been pushed to the diplomatic sidelines.

What Lamont's victory should really do is embolden Democrats to aggressively counterattack the Republicans' scare tactics nonsense. (It would help if the MSM reacted to the GOP drivel by treating it with the contempt it deserves instead of dutifully reporting it as if it contained even an ounce of logic or sanity.)

John Kerry effectively counterattacked the Republican's scare tactics nonsense today -- and every Democratic leader should do the same every day, without fail, until the message finally breaks through the static. The thwarted London attacks, said Kerry, "expose the misleading myth that we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here. In fact, the war in Iraq has become a dangerous distraction... Nearly five years after the attacks of 9/11, we are not as safe as we can and must be... The 9/11 Commission's recommendations to secure our most vulnerable infrastructure remain virtually ignored. And homeland security funding has been cut for cities like Boston and New York."

One of the main reasons this has happened is that Congressional Democrats have failed to hold the Bush administration accountable for taking its eye off the national security ball in order to pursue its imperial adventure in Iraq. It's worth noting that the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is none other than Joe Lieberman, whose belief in bipartisan comity has kept him from holding the White House's feet to the fire. No wonder Karl Rove wanted to help him out, and Dick Cheney feels so concerned by his defeat.

Cheney and Rove know that this battle is for all the marbles. If Democrats can't effectively repudiate the GOP's fear-mongering strategy of linking Iraq to national security, they can kiss 2006 -- and 2008 -- good-bye.