Anointing the GOP as the “National Security Party” makes about as much sense as choosing Ulysses S. Grant to lead the “Temperance Party.” Their record at protecting the nation from terror and military threats is one of ignominious failure, and the next attack – if and when it happens – may well be a preventable horror.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. America: Your child is failing to perform at acceptable standards …

The GAO Report Card issued today is the latest in a litany of documents detailing Republican-led failure and mismanagement in the national security arena. It repeats the dim assessment the 9/11 Commission gave the Administration in 2005. (Broderites, take note: Both reports are bipartisan.) The Lieberman-promoted merger of multiple departments that created the “Department of Homeland Security” has given us a behemoth that’s met less than half of its performance objectives.

Reality to GOP/Lieberman: You’ve flunked.

The report indicated weak results on DHS’ most important goals: emergency preparedness, Manhattan Project-like initiatives to develop new capabilities, and – this was Lieberman’s pet justification for DHS – “eliminating bureaucratic and technical barriers to information-sharing.”

We know the Administration’s been claiming progress, against all reality. And Lieberman’s response to this bipartisan report was that the DHS “has made important progress,” although “we have a long way to go.”

For his part, Chertoff (what – he’s still there?) is still clinging to the fact there have been no further attacks since 9/11. He’s like the drunk behind the wheel of a car going 90 miles an hour toward a brick wall: There’s no reason to stop having fun … yet.

It’s Not “Bush” or “Cheney” – “It’s the GOP, Stupid”

The Republicans will clearly try to run from their own national security record in 2008. The horrible mistakes – ignoring the Bin Laden memo before 9/11, the mismanagement of Katrina, the failures in this report – will be placed at the feet of two individuals, but it’s a party-wide problem.

For example, here’s a list of nine major failures in national security on the GOP watch. They include Republicans in Congress shutting down the oversight unit investigating defense cost overruns and failures, repeated test failures by airport screeners, 4,000 missiles that disappeared because we didn’t secure Iraq’s arms depots … had enough yet?

Smoking Guns and Mushroom Clouds

Oh, but wait. There’s more. The GOP record on radiological materials is … um, not too good. Quick quotes for speed readers: “Some radiological waste storage areas may lack adequate protection against sabotage which could cause wide-area radiological dispersal.” “US Defense Department failed to secure sources of radiological material in Iraq for six months .. some were looted or scattered.” “An unknown number of radiologic sources remain unsecured in Iraq.”

A message to you, Rudy

Where were John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Mike Huckabee, as America remained unsafe? And as for Giuliani, he’s the weakest national security candidate in the pack. If he had listened to his advisors, the anti-terror nerve center wouldn’t have been in the WTC on 9/11 where it was immediately destroyed. He failed to act on urgent requests for a communications system that would allow police and firefighters to speak with one another during an emergency. That failure may have contributed to the high number of first responders’ deaths on 9/11.

Will any Democrat take him on, face to face, on national security? Let’s see.

Oh — and he’s cronied up, too.

Ideology Over Security

Islamists are bad people we must stop – but an existential threat to the West? Conservatives want us to think they’ll place us all under Sharia law and force burkas on Jane and Christy. (“They’re coming to enslave our women!“) So the righties make videos like this loony one, from ex-Trotskyite David Horowitz. (He was an extremist as a leftist, but fits in very nicely on the right.)

You know what this is about: They can push a totalitarian agenda by promoting Islamism as the new Communism. What they can’t do is manage the terror problem very well, since that takes police tactics rather than state-to-state military warfare.

The video is straight out of the 1950’s Red Scare, down to the Russian Army Chorus music in the background. Do svidanya! But meanwhile, we’re no safer. Why? Here’s my theory: Because a party that doesn’t believe in government can’t use government to keep us safe.

(This just in! Sean Hannity’s holding a “Freedom Alliance” concert on 9/11. Joe Lieberman will be there, with Ann Coulter and Ollie North. Perfect! I can’t wait to see them all hold hands to sing a rousing chorus of “We Will Rock You” as helicopters drop confetti made from shredded copies of the Constitution.)

While Democrats Slept

Naomi Wolf missed the point when she called the netroots ‘naive’ for criticizing Sen. Clinton. Hillary had said the GOP would benefit politically from another terror attack. She was right to raise the issue – but she, like other Democrats, need to stop reinforcing that paradigm and start changing it. Today’s report is Exhibit A. Why aren’t we hearing about these failures, and what could happen as a result, every day?

Let’s hope we don’t have another attack. But if we do, the country should see it for what it really is: Katrina with a terrorist’s face.

RJ Eskow

RJ Eskow

RJ Eskow is a musician turned corporate executive and consultant, with public and private sector experience in over 20 countries. Mostly health care and technology - plus, as the old song would have it, "a bit of what you fancy."