This is my entire problem with Hillary Clinton in a nutshell. She believes the Republican's hype instead of challenging it:
"It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," Clinton told supporters in Concord.
"So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that," she added.
It'll only automatically give Republicans an advantage if Democrats concede that. It's this lazy contempt for the American voter that has consigned Democrats to the sidelines of every meaningful foreign policy debate of the last thirty years. Instead of placing the blame on Republicans for failed Republican policies, the Clintonite worldview, repeated by many political consultants, is that Democrats have to "deal with" Republican advantages. Here's Matty Y:
I think there's a pretty clear sense in which the further one is from Bush's Iraq policy, the easier it is politically to say that the failures of Bush's national security policy should be blamed on Bush's failed policies. Obama has a straight shot ("this is why we should have fought al-Qaeda like I said") and Edwards (and Matt Yglesias) has a straightish one ("this is why we should have fought al-Qaeda like I think in retrospect") whereas I'm not 100 percent sure what the Clinton message would be. Most of all, though, I think the politics of national security call for a strong, self-confident posture that genuinely believes liberal solutions are politically saleable and substantively workable, not the kind of worry-wort attitude that says we need to cower in fear every time Republicans say "terror."
We will NEVER gain the respect of the American people by staying in this defensive crouch, arguing from weakness instead of strength. Clinton still hasn't figured out that it's your actions and not your policies that will project strength to the American people. LGM has more:
Clinton is correct in the sense that the idea that everything is good for Republicans will get a more respectful hearing than it deserves. But it also seems obvious that the only way to counter that is for major Democrats to challenge the narrative rather than accept it as a fact of life. Which is another reason why Clinton's front-runner status is regrettable.