To paraphrase President Clinton's 2002 remark, American voters generally seem to prefer strong and wrong to smart and right.
The Republican party has been seen as "tougher," regardless of the effectiveness of its policies. This faith in Republican toughness has had profound electoral consequences.
Donald Rumsfeld may be remembered for his policy failures, but he should also be remembered for the question he posed in a leaked memo in 2003:
"Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"
Two terms of Republican rule have been disastrous for US national security. The question is: Have American voters noticed?
On January 21, 2000, a year before he would move into the White House, Bush said:
When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world.
And we knew exactly who the "they" were.
It was us versus them, and it was clear who "them" was.
Today we're not sure who the "they" are but we know they're there.
In his National Security Strategy for 2002, Bush used the words "liberty" eleven times, "freedom" forty-six times, and "dignity" nine times; yet people who live under oppression around the world have seen few benefits from President Bush's freedom doctrine. Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under Bush, put it best when he said, "Since 9/11 our principal export to the world has been our fear."
"It's very hard to enter the rectum, but once you do things move much faster."
The lions awoke, panicked and scattered into the bushes. The buffalo then trotted victorious back to the pride. It was a perfect illustration of the adage that the best defense is a good offense.