Republicans Now Politicize National Security

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

President Obama called the botched bombing attempt of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day a “catastrophic breach of security,” opening up investigations into the TSA’s air traveler screening network and FBI’s terror watch list.   The president’s stern remarks were made in Hawaii during a family vacation, amid much criticism from Republicans for his administration’s mishandling of the foiled terror plot.

Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the 23-year-old son of a prominent Nigerian banker who has reported links to al-Qaeda, was carrying 80 grams of a super explosive in his underwear aboard Northwest Flight 253 that went undetected. He fumbled detonation and was immediately subdued by passengers and crew before the attack could be fully carried out. Mutallab wasn’t allowed to fly into Great Britain because of his terrorist links and it’s still unclear why he was even able to board a U.S. flight.

Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano started the media frenzy when she initially praised ‘the system’ for working smoothly, but later backtracked from her original remarks saying they were taken out of context and that the system did not work in this instance.

Republican Reps. Pete Hoekstra (Michigan) and Peter King (NY) were quick to politicize President Obama’s response to the failed Christmas Day bombing. A sharp contrast to when Democrats remained silent about former President Bush not making any public remarks for days about Richard Reid (a.k.a. the shoe bomber). Ironically, Mr. Bush also was on holiday when the incident occurred. Why are politics at play here?

Terrorism and national security issues always have united both parties. Republicans have used Northwest Flight 253 to yet again, further distance themselves from President Obama and the Democratic Party. The GOP must find its identity in 2010. Following an “anti-Obama” agenda will only hurt Republicans in next year’s mid-term elections. One suggestion might be to rally around Abraham Lincoln, who literally built the GOP into a national powerhouse. Leveraging Lincoln might just be the spark the Republican Party needs right now. Otherwise, continuing to knock healthcare legislation and the economic stimulus will only further distance the GOP from its own constituency and the general electorate.

Van Jones: New Bulldog for the Democratic Party?

Former White House Green Jobs Advoacte Van Jones

Former White House Green Jobs Advoacte Van Jones

Embattled White House energy jobs advocate Van Jones quietly resigned over the Labor Day weekend under intense scrutiny, mostly by GOP leaders and conservative media pundits for his past controversial statements.

Jones, a best-selling author and community organizer from the San Francisco Bay area, came under fire recently when he used a vulgarity to refer to Republicans earlier this year. Jones was criticized for signing a 2004 petition questioning whether President George Bush had allowed the September 2001 terrorist attacks so he could start a war in Iraq. Van Jones also publicly supported death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is charged in the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

Jones has been great fodder for the media. Fox News Channel and syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck first started criticizing Jones in July. It got ugly when Glenn called the energy czar a “communist-anarchist radical” and President Obama a “racist” after a 2005 video surfaced of Jones saying “You never seen a Columbine done by a black child.” It’s hard to deny the truth in Jones’ Columbine statement and much of what he said can easily be misconstrued.

Nevertheless, many supporters appreciate Jones’ candidness and resisted his resignation. Did any good come out of Jones’ departure? No doubt Jones was becoming a key distraction to the Obama administration as the president continues to push healthcare reform and revive a failing economy. The White House had no choice but to take the high road and accept Jones’ resignation. The Democrats however need more bulldogs in the ranks to combat the onslaught of “anti-Obama” attacks set by the conservative media.

Can Van Jones be the Democrat equivalent of the GOP’s Pat Buchannan? It would be fun to find out. It remains unclear what the Democrats have in mind but the gloves may be coming off in combating Republican attacks, now that Jones is not linked to the White House.