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The Down Under Plot and The One Issue of American Politics

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The summary of the situation in Australia:

Police arrested 17 terror suspects in Australia’s two biggest cities Tuesday in raids authorities said foiled a plot to carry out a catastrophic terror attack. A radical Muslim cleric known for praising Osama bin Laden was charged with masterminding the plot.

More than 500 police backed up by helicopters were involved in raids across Sydney and Melbourne, arresting eight men in Sydney and nine in Melbourne and seizing chemicals, weapons, computers and backpacks.

If the riots across France –and spreading to other European countries– had not already underscored that reality that the central issue of this decade and the next is radical Islam and its adherents, then the plot to strike our Australian ally ought to.

On CNN with Anderson Cooper last night the discussion was whether the president’s political situation was dire. Of course bad poll numbers are troubling, and the Libby indictment/Miers withdrawal/Katrina expense had all combined to make for a lousy fall for the president and the GOP.

But, I added:

But, tonight, we’re watching Australia, Anderson, where 15 different arrests are under way, even more at this hour, for a plot that threatened chemical attacks, it said, on railheads. We are looking at France aflame. We are seeing it spread to Germany. We are seeing unrest and a threat in Italy.

And whenever national security returns to the fore, I think the Bush presidency surges, because what Senator Edwards didn’t reference, what the big elephant in the middle of the room — and I don’t mean the Republican elephant — is, the Democrats are not trustworthy on national security.

They’re not reliable. They did a terrible job of it in the ’90s. And the American people don’t forget. So, the reality of the threat from abroad is the best sort of politics for the Republicans, because they don’t play politics with it. They play national security with it. That’s where they win.

Whenever the harsh realities of the world push themselves into American living rooms, the GOP sees its position improve because it is the serious party, the grown-up party, the not-Howard-Dean-and-Michael-Moore-and-John-Kerry-party.

That may not matter in New Jersey and Virginia today –it didn’t matter in New Jersey and Virginia four years ago when Democratic governors won in both states less than two months after 9/11– but it matters a great deal in Senate and House elections, and will continue to do so.

If you want the national security policies of France, vote Democratic.


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