Obama’s security tweaks unlikely to quiet political opponents
President Barack Obama will tighten airline security today in a bid to thwart any future attack like last month’s plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. But will that silence his political opponents? Not likely. With congressional elections looming in November, the stakes may be too high.
Take Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, for example. He’s running for governor of Michigan and criticizing Obama’s handling of the bomb plot in hopes of making Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, look soft on security.
“If you agree that we need a governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security, please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign,” he said in a widely quoted letter to prospective supporters.
The letter caused an uproar among critics who accused Hoekstra of playing politics with national security. But the security issue seems destined to become a leading theme for Republicans in this year’s election battle for control of Congress, which they hope to turn into a referendum on Obama’s policies.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says national security is among the top issues on which his party needs to engage voters.
“There are a lot of questions out there,” he told NBC’s Today show. “The inconsistency in the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy, particularly with respect to terrorism, is a concern.”
“At some point, this administration has to take responsibility for what it’s doing, take responsibility for its decisions,” Steele added.
Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. But they now hope to stage a comeback by playing up perceptions, fed by opinion polls, that Obama’s policies are increasingly unpopular with the American public.
Democrats could be vulnerable if the predictions of some pundits prove right. New York Times columnist David Brooks predicts that the conservative tea party movement could be transformed from a fringe entity named for the famous Boston Tea Party into a major political force opposed to Obama — if a talented leader emerges from its ranks.
“The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against,” Brooks writes. “But it is now more popular than either major party.”
Photo Credits: Reuters/Jason Reed (Fiery clouds over the U.S. Capitol); Reuters/Jeff Zelevansky (RNC Chairman Michael Steele); Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi (Tea Party demonstrator holds an anti-Obama sign in Parker, Texas)