The Democrats’ Republican moment

The Democrats’ Republican moment
July 30 22:23 2016

By Nicole Gaouette

Over four flag-waving days in Philadelphia, Democrats stole
the Republicans’ mojo.
 That’s how many conservatives felt, at least, watching their
opponent’s pageant this week in Philadelphia. And it may be
enough to sway some of them to cross the aisle on Election
Day.
”How can it be that I am standing at my kitchen counter
sobbing because of the messages being driven at the DNC?”
Republican strategist Rich Galen asked on Twitter.

“Where
has the GOP gone?”
As Democratic delegates chanted “USA! USA!” and military
leaders celebrated America’s power, speaker after speaker
at the Democratic National Convention struck themes that
have long been hallmarks of Republican rhetoric: tributes to
service, sacrifice, American leadership and, above all, a
repeated reaffirmation of American exceptionalism.
”We have the most powerful military.

The most innovative
entrepreneurs. The most enduring values — freedom and
equality, justice and opportunity,” Hillary Clinton said as she
accepted her party’s nomination on Thursday night, “We
should be so proud that these words are associated with us.
That when people hear them, they hear America.”
Throughout the convention, Democratic speakers struck
optimistic notes, emphasized patriotism and a muscular
American presence in the world, messages that happen to
have strong appeal for disaffected Republicans and
independents.
And the performance drew praise from many Republicans
who object to GOP nominee Donald Trump — particularly
those who concentrate on foreign policy and national
security, many of whom have been harshly critical of
Trump’s positions on Russia, NATO, Asia and nuclear
weapons, among other issues.
”The Democratic convention was a convention of patriotism
this year,” wrote Erick Erickson, a conservative radio host
and blogger. “Democrats were for you.

If you want to be
free, the GOP was doom and gloom.”
The praise echoed many of the reactions that followed
President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night, when
conservatives took to Twitter to praise its optimism and
bemoan the fact that a Republican wasn’t making it.
John Podhoretz, a former speechwriter for President Ronald
Reagan, tweeted that Obama’s address “could have been a
Reagan speech.

Trust me. I know.”
However, Trump and those Republicans who support him
found plenty to criticize in Clinton’s take on national
security. Her record as secretary of state — particularly her
role in the US intervention in Libya, the Benghazi terror
attacks, her role in the Iran nuclear deal and her overtures to
China — were central lines of attack throughout the GOP’s
own convention last week, including in speeches by New
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy
Giuliani.
And immediately after Clinton’s speech Thursday, the
Republican nominee slammed her for not using the term
Islamic terrorism. In an apparent attempt to reclaim the
national security narrative, Trump tweeted that the
Democrat’s “refusal to mention Radical Islam” was yet
”more proof that she is unfit to lead the country.

“
He also criticized the Democratic convention as a whole for
not addressing terrorism during the opening nights of the
convention, noting that the word “ISIS” wasn’t mentioned on
the first day.
Yet on Wednesday and Thursday, the issue of fighting
terrorism and American leadership in the world became
increasingly more prominent themes.
In part, the convention’s tone reflected Clinton, who
throughout her career has emphasized the unique role the
US plays globally and taken a more hawkish stance on
national security issues than many in her party.

And to some degree, it also reflected the ways in which
Obama — though harshly criticized by those on the right for
what they see as weakness in much of his foreign policy –
has chosen to use force.
Obama has aggressively expanded his Republican
predecessor’s use of drone warfare and backed
controversial surveillance measures against America’s
enemies. Most memorably, his directing the daring raid that
killed Osama bin Laden in one bullet buried the decades-old
perception that a Democrat wasn’t tough enough to deal
with a threatening world.
The themes of military strength and patriotism permeated
the convention, but were most obvious when Gen. John 
Allen took the stage.

In a speech punctuated by chants of
”USA! USA!,” the former commander of US forces in
Afghanistan stressed American military power and issued a
battle cry against ISIS, declaring that the terror group will be
beaten and the homeland will be protected.
Noah Rothman, a conservative writer at Commentary
magazine, tweeted that “for Bush-era GOPers, a convention
of Dems cheering ‘USA’ as military brass pledge to defeat
’evil’ is disorienting.

“
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael
Steele tweeted that he was “enjoying this Republican
Convention with a 4 Star General commanding the stage and
chants of “USA, USA.”
The reaction, though, also reflected the split that exists
within the Democratic Party over the military and use of
force.
The chants of “USA” during Allen’s speech started in order
to drown out the anti-war calls of convention-goers unhappy
with the welcome accorded to Pentagon brass. The night
before, supporters of Clinton primary opponent Bernie
 Sanders, many of whom still haven’t fully reconciled
themselves to Clinton winning the nomination, interrupted
former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta
with cries of “no more war!”

While Clinton might hope to draw in moderates and even
some Republicans with her strong-America rhetoric, she
could also further turn off the progressive wing of the party
that has long seen her as too close to the center.
Still, whatever the risks to shoring up her support with the
Democratic base, Clinton did not shy away from striking
pro-military appeals during her nomination acceptance
speech.
Clinton laid out her strategy for defeating ISIS, emphasized
the US commitment to protecting European allies from a
bullying Russia and called for standing up to China. Noting
that Trump had described the US military as “a disaster,”
Clinton lauded them as a “national treasure.

“
The military’s service and sacrifice — as well as the
Constitution, a Republican touchstone — were movingly
evoked Thursday night when the father of a fallen Muslim
serviceman spoke of his son. Holding up his pocket-sized
copy of the country’s founding document, Khizr Khan
addressed Trump directly, telling him to look through the
Constitution for the word “liberty.”
”You have sacrificed nothing. And no one,” Khan said.
Throughout the convention, Clinton and other speakers
offered a direct rebuttal to her Republican rival’s insistence
on American decline by emphasizing the positive force
Americans can be at home and abroad.
The Democratic convention was “about loving America,”
said prominent conservative writer Jonah Goldberg, “the
Republican convention was about loving Trump. If you
didn’t love Trump, it offered nothing.”

(CNN)