Tuesday, October 05, 2004

security accountability

Last week, Atrios invited us to vote for our favorite Bush line from last week's debate. Paul Krugman nails it:

So far, Mr. Bush has paid no political price for his shameful penny-pinching on domestic security and his refusal to provide effective protection for America's ports and chemical plants. As Jonathan Chait wrote in The New Republic: "Bush's record on homeland security ought to be considered a scandal. Yet, not only is it not a scandal, it's not even a story."

But Mr. Kerry raised the issue, describing how the administration has failed to protect us against terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush's response? "I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises."
Kerry's talking about security at ports and chemical plants, an issue that Bush has consistently and adamantly ignored for three years, and Bush treats the issue like Kerry's lining a pork barrel! And all the while he's spending far more on "offensive" adventures whose security value seems problematic at best.

Now I'm all for thinking outside the box. I don't like playing defense all the time--In my daily life I feel stronger when I'm being pro-active, looking at the larger picture and all that. So I would certainly feel very unsatisfied if our only national response to global terrorism was to hunker down at wait to find out where the chinks in our armor lay.

But geez, shouldn't we at least lock the back door when we step out for our neighborhood self-defense class?

Of course there will always be areas that we won't be able to secure, whether because of logistics, or perhaps simply priorities. But if that were the case, then Bush/Cheney should have a long list of specific measures taken (one in which "Iraq" isn't every third entry). Instead, all we get is a lecture in fiscal responsibility, which is sort of like having our uncle the lush counsel us on the evils of drink.

The reason this issue matters more than almost any other in the subject of security is because it illustrates how little concern the Bush Administation has for domestic security. Whether this lack of concern is because they don't care if a little collateral damage happens here in the US or because, deep down, they don't believe it will happen again, take your pick.

Or perhaps I'm wrong about their concern. Perhaps what really happened is that they believed their own hype about Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe they thought they'd get in quick and cheap, set a couple of examples and scare some people, and then they'd be right back here with time and money to fill in the chinks at home. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, and now Bush is faced with the fact that we don't have the money to do what should have been done in the first place. But since the reason for the lack of money is directly related to his complete muck-up in Iraq, he can't even acknowledge there is a problem let alone deal with it.

Well, I guess its good to know Bush can recognize a spending limit, on occasion.