Rick Santorum, appearing on the Hugh Hewitt show, predicts “some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK” over the next eighteen months or so that are going to lead people to have a “very different view” of the war in Iraq and the vital importance of “confronting Iran in the Middle East.” Avedon Carol wonders if it shouldn’t “concern us that Republicans are constantly talking about how people will all wise up when the next terrorist attack at home comes?” After all, they seem to really be “looking forward to it, and they take great delight in the thought that, by God, people will see things differently when it happens.”
There’s really, even, a larger structural issue here. Namely that while clearly on some level the conservative movement would like to make the country safer from terrorism, on another level everyone knows that mass fear of foreign threats to Americans’ physical security are a boon to the conservative movement’s fortune. On the one hand, this creates systematic incentives to overstate the extent and nature of the real threats facing America. On the other hand, it creates systematic incentives to ensure that such threats as do exist are never ameliorated. In particular, it gives everyone a very strong self-interest in not understanding the extent to which overreacting can be counterproductive since both the overreaction itself and the counterproductive blowback may serve the interests of the Republican Party.