Senator Feingold: dangerously weak on national security, in line with Obama on ISIS

Right Wisconsin
By: Collin Roth 
December 15, 2015

New polls show terrorism rising to the top of voters minds.

In a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 40% of respondents listed terrorism and national security as the top priority of the federal government. This is up 19 points from April.

A recent Gallup poll also found Americans prioritizing terrorism as their top concern in December with a jump of 13 points from the previous month. With 1 in 6 respondents listing terrorism as their main concern, this is the highest spike in a decade and the third highest since 9/11.

For a loyal supporter of President Obama’s foreign policy, like Russ Feingold, this is all unwelcome news.

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, I wrote that while Russ Feingold appears to be in the driver’s seat to regain his seat in 2016, “if world events conspire to keep terrorism, national security, and foreign affairs on the minds of voters, Feingold could find himself at a disadvantage to Ron Johnson, the Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and a strong critic of President Obama’s feckless foreign policy.”

In the last month, Feingold has faltered and tripped in responding to real world events. In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Feingold advocated for a shiny new intelligence commission. This despite a record of denying the intelligence community important tools and advocating for the close of Guantanamo Bay.

Now, with President Obama scrambling to reassure the American people that the year-long military campaign is succeeding against ISIS, Feingold is trying to talk tough on the Islamic State. A new op-ed from Feingold says the US must “choke off the Islamic State.”

For many years, fighting terrorism and preventing the emergence of affiliated groups has been one of my highest priorities. As a former member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, I know firsthand that the way forward is to build a bipartisan strategy to protect America both now and for many years to come. And destroying the Islamic State — or ISIL — must begin immediately.

Our plan must make use of every type of resource — military, financial, intelligence-based and diplomatic. Every option must be on the table, because choking off the lifeblood of such a dangerous group will require a comprehensive and sustained strategy.

But like Obama, Feingold seems to double down on the current strategy while pretending it’s novel and new. In a nutshell, Feingold wants precision military strikes and congressional authorization (same as Obama), he wants to block and choke the funding and assets of the terror group (same as Obama), he wants to bolster intelligence (same as Obama), and he wants a diplomatic strategy that facilitates stability and democracy in Syria and Libya (same as Obama).

In fact, Russ Feingold’s entire ISIS strategy mirrors Obama’s – but he never mentions the president. This is revealing, and unlikely to work in deceiving voters who are being told to disbelieve their lying eyes.

Russ Feingold doesn’t want terrorism and national security to be the top issue next year. He’d much rather run as Bernie Sanders-lite and talk about the minimum wage, campaign finance reform, and student loan debt.

But sometimes the world comes knocking. And when it does, voters aren’t going to be looking for a loyal advocate of the Obama foreign policy.