Bayh Gets Frisky

My Democratic Senator (and presumed 2008 presidential candidate) Evan Bayh gave a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in D.C. today, the main focus of which was the Dems’ need to take back their history of being strong on defense and take the GOP head-on re: national security and defense issues. I didn’t agree with everything he had to say in the speech, but it’s worth a read. Here are a couple of excerpts:

As a lifelong Democrat I welcome this debate, because it is one we can win. George W. Bush’s saying he wants the 2006 election to be about national security is like Herbert Hoover proudly claiming that the 1930 election should be a referendum on the economy. And if the Democratic Party can get its national security act together, the result should be the same.

Karl Rove has claimed that Democrats were too weak to defend the nation, that President Bush is simply tougher. Tough is good, but six years into the Bush Presidency it is clear that tough is not enough.

We need a foreign policy that is both tough … and smart. The good news? That it is the historic legacy of the Democratic Party. It is a legacy we must now reclaim…

To be blunt, Karl Rove and George W. Bush have been much better at national security politics than national security policy…

When I was in Baghdad last year, our top intelligence official told me things would be 100 percent better in Iraq if we’d only not sent the Iraqi army home. Another U.S. official in Iraq recently told me that the Administration’s policy of complete De-Baathification was “insane.” The author of that policy was given our nation’s highest civilian medal.

Plenty tough. Not very smart.

…Our troops have also not been given the equipment they need to do their jobs as effectively and safely as possible. Hillbilly armor? That’s a disgrace.

…Mr. Rove, I say we are ready. Ready to have this debate any time, any place, you’d like to have it. Ready to expose the severe failings of this Administration’s stewardship of America’s security. Ready to show the nation that there is a better way, that we can be tough AND smart.

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