Bush's surprise

John Podhoretz:

...

"The humiliation of Howard Dean in Iowa on Monday night is a powerful indication that many reasonable Democratic voters don't want to conduct the 2004 election as a referendum on the president's handling of the war in Iraq and the War on Terror. They understand that such a battle might be nothing more than an act of ideological suicide.

"Still, if John Kerry or John Edwards or Wesley Clark does prevail in Dean's stead, he will still have to make a case that as president he will do a better job keeping America safe and secure. And last night the president removed a hidden arrow from his quiver and shot it straight at them.

"That arrow is called the Patriot Act - the legislation passed by Congress in the fall of 2001 that expanded the ability of domestic law-enforcement to fight the War on Terror.

"Democrats running for president, particularly Kerry, have attacked the president for not doing enough to protect the homeland. And yet they have been attacking the Patriot Act - which is the key domestic component of the War on Terror - for being too draconian.

"They all describe it as a frightening assault on civil liberties and so on, and act as though it simply sprang full-grown and unchecked from the brain of John Ashcroft. In fact, the Patriot Act passed the U.S. Senate by a margin of, get this, 98 to 1 - including the 'yea' votes of Sens. Kerry and Edwards. And make no mistake: They have done so because the leftist Democratic base has demanded it of them.

"What the Democratic Left finds appealing, the American mainstream voter may find absolutely appalling. The criticism of the Patriot Act runs the risk of reinforcing the morally unappealing image of the Democratic Party of the 1980s: the party that was both hostile to law enforcement and weak on national defense."

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