“Disgusting,” exclaimed Rep. Tom Delay. Sen. Trent Lott fumed, “How dare Senator Daschle criticize President Bush while we are fighting our war on terrorism, especially when we have troops in the field? He should not be trying to divide our country while we are united.”
Had Daschle denounced U.S. imperialism while linked arm-in-arm with Jane Fonda and Saddam Hussein? Did he attack President Bush as an election-stealing dolt who left America vulnerable to the Sept. 11 attacks?
No, the majority leader of the Senate, after praising the progress of the war to this point, said, “I think the jury’s still out on future success,” and “I think there is expansion without at least a clear direction.”
Daschle’s statements were fairly tepid criticism of a war that has so far been a big success, from a public-relations standpoint at least. But, at the risk of offending Delay and Lott, I think that this may be the only sensible thing Daschle has ever said. The war has achieved a few good results. Yes, the Taliban was perhaps the vilest regime of the last few years, and I’m glad it is out of power. Killing members of al Qaeda, and hampering its ability to operate, is a good thing. But whether the war has improved the long-term security of the United States is dubious. There is no guarantee that the Northern Alliance won’t turn on us in the future, or even that it will still exist in six months. If al Qaeda survives, it will no doubt have a much larger pool of potential recruits than it had six months ago. The continued presence of the U.s. military in Saudi Arabia serves both as a source of antagonism and as a target.
The Bush administration’s assaults on civil liberties at home won’t make us any more secure from terrorism, only less free. We are still vulnerable to terrorism and we can’t even talk about it in public. If fools like Trent Lott have their way, our extraordinarily narrow range of political “debate” will become even narrower, until perhaps Washington D.C. or some other major city lays in ruins.