Noah Shachtman suggests four areas where the Democrats can make the national security issue against Bush in 2004: he calls them “nation-building;” “9-11” (roughly, “Where’s Osama?”); homeland defense, and multilateralism (which sounds like a loser at the polls until you read Shachtman’s slogan for it: “a posse, not a cowboy”).
All reasonable stuff, but it misses what seems to me Bush’s central vulnerability: his unwillingness to confront the Saudi monarchy, which was up to its neck in supporting and financing al-Qaeda and still defends its practice of paying bounties to the families of terrorists who manage to blow themselves up while murdering Israelis.
A challenge for people who know more detail than I do: what would the structure of something that did for the Saudi issue what Jackson-Vanik did for the issue of dealing with (what proved to be) the dying Soviet regime? We need something that, without mentioning Saudi Arabia, in fact picks it out, and does something nasty to it until it stops doing some of the nasty things it does.
Of course it needs a provision allowing the President to waive it in the national interest. Go ahead, Shrub. Make my day.
Update If the Bush Administration allows the imposition of sharia in Iraq (see next post) that would also be a great issue. The time to start talking is now.