One of the primary roles of government is the safety of its people.
Richard Nixon, law and order’s most famous practitioner, used the reality of domestic unrest to defeat Hubert Humphrey in the annus horribilis, 1968. President George W. Bush persuaded voters in 2004 that John Kerry would provide uncertain leadership in the post-9/11 war on terror.
Donald Trump, always willing to test the limits of any thought, is campaigning for law and order on a global scale. He’s accusing Hillary Clinton of being soft on crime at home and soft on terror everywhere in the world. It’s “Law and Order: Global Victims Unit,” Donald J. Trump producer.
Tuesday in Milwaukee, which last weekend looked a lot like Baltimore’s 2015 street riots, Mr. Trump said: “The Hillary Clinton agenda hurts poor people the most. There is no compassion in allowing drug dealers, gang members and felons to prey on innocent people. It is the first duty of government to keep the innocent safe.”
In Monday’s foreign policy speech he pledged to do a reverse-Obama by keeping Gitmo open and trying accused terrorists in military tribunals. Likening his strategy to “the effort to take down the mafia,” he said “this will be the understood mission of every federal investigator and prosecutor in the country.”
With most of the battleground states looking more like Republican burial grounds, it may be pressing the membrane of believability to say the Trump law-and-order strategy just might work. That said, Mr. Trump’s naming this week of the adept Republican political strategist Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager means he may yet give his supporters a competitive presidential campaign.
Democrats deserve to have a Trumpian version of “law and order” unloaded on them. I don’t think the Democrats are soft on crime and terrorism. They’re just ambivalent. Ambivalence can get you killed, especially around people with guns and bombs.
Asked after every primary to rank four issues, Democrats nearly always put terrorism fourth. It hardly came up in the Clinton-Sanders debates.
And whether the domestic shooters are San Bernardino’s terrorists, Orlando’s nut or Chicago’s gangs, the Democrats’ offer the same silver bullet: gun control.
The problem with how they’ve teed up the cops has been the nonexistence of any Democratic alternative beyond patrolling the toughest streets with a blue version of Casper the Friendly Ghost.
On national security, an example of progressive foreign policy’s half-in, half-out attitude was former Attorney General Eric Holder’s remark in May that the traitorous Edward Snowden “actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made.” [You can’t make this stuff up.] No, it was not worth anything.
In a Journal article last month, an administration official summarized the Obama anti-terror policy. It reads like aggression with footnotes: “Not just in Afghanistan, but in Iraq and Syria, it’s very evident what his approach is, which is to make sure we’re doing everything necessary to disrupt and ultimately defeat terrorist networks while significantly reducing the role of the U.S. military in terms of the ground presence and also reducing the resources associated with that presence.” [You can’t make this stuff up.]
There is a specific, wellknown reason for a Democratic policy of “reducing the resources associated with that presence,” one that 50 former Bush officials should have thought about before unfurling their Hamlet-like statement last week on the election and national security.
The reason is guns versus butter, military spending versus always unsated domestic needs. The liberals’ battle for butter began in the 1960s, when they vilified Lyndon Johnson for spending on Vietnam and the Cold War rather than the Great Society.
Right now, foreign-policy liberals and some conservatives are pushing sotto voce assurances that Hillary will “get it right” on national security. They had better go lineby- line through the economicpolicy speech she gave last week in Michigan. After the greatest outlay on infrastructure spending “since World War II,” tuition-free college for the middle class and “debt-free for everyone,” plus uncountable tax credits, anything Mrs. Clinton gets right will be on the cheap. Like her “intelligence surge.” This isn’t Bill Clinton’s center- left Democratic Party. It’s the left-only party of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama. What they want is butter, lakes of it. Antiterrorism gets to tread water, alongside the cops.
Defeating Islamic terror is a rare unifying issue for conservatives and indeed for the world. Unlike any conceivable Democratic president, Donald Trump is at least willing to lead this battle, reflecting the truth that it won’t happen without active, unrelenting U.S. leadership.
No doubt this is yet another issue with which voters have to struggle, wanting an alternative to the Obama-Clinton Democrats but burdened with misgivings that are of Mr. Trump’s own creation.
But Donald Trump didn’t create the law-and-order issue. Cities and nations under assault did that. Just now, his answer for both looks better than her answer.