Where's the Fearmongering?
The Obama administration is considering moving dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees to a single, high-security facility in the United States. And though that news would seem an easy way for Republican lawmakers to rile up their districts while they're home for August recess, so far it hasn't prompted the same GOP outrage we saw last time the issue was up for debate. There's been the odd disgruntled conservative blog post. Lawmakers from the two states reportedly under consideration for the new prison have threatened to “shut down” Congress. But, for the most part, Republicans aren’t screaming about the issue as loudly as before.
Is this a sign of responsibility and restraint? An implicit admission that the rhetoric earlier this year -- warning of apocalyptic terrorist prison breaks -- was overheated? Did GOP lawmakers read E.J. Dionne's column this morning?
More likely, the Republican leadership is focused on attacking Democrats on health care. (See the House Republicans’ latest web video, "I'm Not a Doctor, But I Play One on TV," featuring clips of President Obama talking about health care while “The Young and the Restless” theme music plays in the background). Obama also outmaneuvered the opposition a bit on this one -- a single prison site means that most Americans won’t have to even consider the remote chance of terrorists popping up in their back yards. Of course, there's still plenty of time for GOP lawmakers to fan the flames.
The real test will come when the planning gets less hypothetical and Obama goes to Congress with an actual proposal. The result will help to clarify whether the Republicans are actually trying to become a responsible alternative to the Democrats -- and, indeed, whether the Democrats in Congress can responsibly govern.
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