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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Republicans vs. Republicans on Security vs. Economy

I usually don't blog twice in one day, but this story caught my eye and I did miss a couple of days last week while traveling.

Anyway, it is quite apparent that Republicans have been playing up their strength on security questions since 9/11. It was a huge part of the 2002 election cycle, for instance.

At the same time, the traditional core of the Republican party is its friendliness towards business. During the cold war, these issues were sometimes at odds -- no trading with Cuba or China, for example.

However, it is also clear that these issues still create difficult tensions for Republicans. Today's Chicago Tribune has a story entitled, "Congressman Urges Avoiding Times Square." Here are the key paragraphs:
Concerned about terrorism, Rep. Christopher Shays urged revelers not to attend New Year's Eve celebrations like the one at Times Square this year. New York's mayor countered that Shays could use an infusion of courage.

A member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and chairman of a terrorism subcommittee, the Connecticut Republican told WVIT-TV on Tuesday that he wouldn't go to Times Square "for anything."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nobody should stay home because of the nation's heightened terror alert, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the nation's security was unprecedented.

But Shays said it is irresponsible for officials to make people think they don't need to take precautions, like avoiding packed crowds in New York City.
It will be interesting to see whether this kind of tension hurts Bush in 2004. It's tricky to emphasize security threats without causing the kind of fear that paralyzes consumers.

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