Is It the Economy (Again), Stupid?
By Janine Davidson
Erin was right in her prediction that the economic crisis would squeeze out much of the foreign policy discussion in Friday night's presidential debate. And given today's events, the economy will no doubt continue to dominate campaign discussions.
But are we headed for a repeat of 1992, when Bill Clinton's motto -- "it's the economy, stupid" -- turned out to be the key to the election? When incumbent President George H.W. Bush found that the first Iraq war couldn't help him to a win?
Although the stars seem to be aligning that way, we shouldn't write off national security as a major campaign issue just yet. Sure, as a national security scholar, I'm a bit biased about the importance of these issues. But it's not 1992 all over again. And here's why.
Back then, the Gulf War was hardly considered an existential threat to the United States. The U.S. was strong and well-respected abroad, and we hadn't experienced a major terrorist attack on our soil.
Today, the threat of terrorism hangs over the American political and emotional psyche, meaning soccer moms can become "security moms" in an instant.
At the same time, the details of the economic crisis are difficult to understand, and the two presidential candidates seem to have similar positions on what to do about it.
So, while economic issues may seem all-important and all-consuming, the candidates would be wise to keep national security on the other front burner. Given the nature of the global economy and the importance of energy security, they should make the intellectual links between economic and foreign policy issues -- and, most importantly, articulate them clearly to the American people.
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