The Republicans are already using ISIS as a wedge issue:
It’s true that the President’s approval on terrorism has plummeted and the GOP now holds a huge advantage on foreign policy. Republican strategists have been pretty explicit in explaining that they see this as a way to exploit a general public sense that things have gone off the rails, and polls do show high wrong-track numbers and rising worry about terrorism. If things go wrong, which is certainly possible, this could well redound to the benefit of Republican candidates.
But for now, it’s hard to imagine that arguments such as Brown’s above are going to cut it. After all, if GOP candidates are really going to paint the U.S. response to ISIS as insufficiently realistic about the nature of the threat, then that should theoretically open them up to thequestion of whether they support sending in ground troops. You’d think that if the criticism continues now that operations are underway, it would be harder for them to duck that basic follow-up.
Waldman agrees that ISIS fear-mongering is unlikely to work:
Despite the surface similarity between political attacks like those and the ones we saw when George W. Bush was president, there’s a crucial difference. Back then, there was a Republican president taking actions against America’s enemies, while Democrats supposedly didn’t want to protect the country (even if, in reality, elected Democrats gave ample support to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other elements of the “War on Terror”).
Today, however, it’s a Democratic president who is taking action against terrorists. Even if you believe that action is inadequate, it still creates a fundamentally different impression with the public when they see Tomahawks launching and jets taking off from aircraft carriers on Barack Obama’s orders.
Which may explain why Josh Green found that few GOP ads thus far have mentioned ISIS:
Now that the U.S. has begun bombing Syria, those ads may start to materialize. Then again, maybe they won’t. Republicans leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have endorsed Obama’s latest campaign. “ISIL is a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” Boehner said of the group formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, according to a statement. “I support the airstrikes launched by the president, understanding that this is just one step in what must be a larger effort to destroy and defeat this terrorist organization. I wish our men and women in uniform Godspeed as they carry out this fight.”