Put this in the “how Republicans will run against Obama” file. What’s remarkable about the coverage of this statement and Obama’s reaction to the statement is that King’s comments are mostly run-of-the-mill rhetoric against so-called “appeasers” who are “weak” on national security, augmented with very deliberate use of Obama’s middle name and precisely the reversed form of Sullivan’s argument for Obama that I said could be used against him:
The other problem with this talk of Obama as a bridge-builder with the Islamic world is that people might take it rather too seriously and see him as being too close to the Islamic world.
Declaring that King’s language “has no place in politics” is all very well, but you might as well demand that all war supporters to stop imputing treachery and disloyalty to war opponents. For that matter, you could ask the sun not to rise. When Romney announced that continuing his campaign would “aid a surrender to terror” (i.e., the election of a Democrat), I’m sure many people laughed, but no one was particularly scandalised by the statement because it has become so commonplace in Republican circles. Caricaturing their opponents as “defeatists” is the mainstream GOP’s idea of a coherent national security argument, which doesn’t mean that it won’t win votes. Typically, winning “national security” messages are long on fear and short on reason. Demagoguing terrorism is all these people have left, but we would be foolish to assume that it isn’t still a powerful message. I’ll tell you this much: if Obama tries to dismiss this “appeasement” line of attack in the way that he dismissed King’s comments, he is going to find himself at a significant disadvantage.