Reed bolsters Dems on national security

In 2004, Democrats tried using the national security argument -- not very successfully -- against President Bush.

Now, with Obama taking Senators Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel with him to Iraq, Reed is once again getting the call to lend the respect that he commands in this arena.

Will this issue play differently in 2008?

During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I talked with Reed about the Democrats and their attempt to use the national security issue. Here's part of what he said at the time.

For the converted, the war in Iraq -- from its preemptive start to the various bungles along the way -- points to the need for some big changes. As Reed notes, in a theme repeated at the convention, the US "is now considered to be a nation without friends in the world. We can’t do anything without a collaborative effort." And even with homeland security rhetoric emanating from the White House, he says, relatively little of it has been adequately backed up -- a finding articulated in alarming detail by the national 9/11 Commission last week.

Given all this, you don’t have to be a fan of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, with its share of unflattering footage of the president’s syntax-challenged remarks, to think the administration lacks in judgment and other national security skills. So why do the Democrats still face a seemingly uphill battle on this issue?

Reed says the perception among some that Democrats are weak on defense is a legacy of the last 25 or 30 years. And the simplistic outlook of the Bush White House -- in which the president suggests a black-and-white view of complex global geopolitics -- has "a certain appeal to people."

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