Why are the Republicans favored on defense?

I hear again and again that the Obama campaign benefited from the financial crisis, because the public prefers the Democrats on the economy but the Republicans on defense.

Why on Earth is this still the case? The current Republican administration has presided over the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history (arguably not Bush’s fault) and a very unpopular war (clearly Bush’s fault) – a war which McCain supported and Obama opposed from the outset. And yet the Republicans are seen as the party that will keep us safer from international terrorists and hostile regimes?

I get that McCain has served in the military and Obama hasn’t. But being a Navy captain and being Commander-in-Chief are two drastically different things. I would hope that on determining how to win a war, either man would largely follow the recommendations of his generals and other senior military advisors, who know a hell of a lot more about waging war than they do.

The most important role of the Commander-in-Chief (in modern times anyway, Constitution be damned) is deciding when we go to war. So far as I know, every major conflict in recent American history has been initiated by the Executive Branch. I presume that the public would strongly prefer not to have the U.S. embroiled in another war over the next four years. Can anyone possibly believe that we are less likely to enter a war under McCain’s leadership than Obama’s? McCain, who is notoriously hot headed, who supported the Iraq War from the start, who jokingly sings about bombing Iran, who insults the Prime Minister of Russia on national T.V., who talked about staying in Iraq for 100 years?

Putin may be an oppressive thug, and the “Bomb Iran” song was actually pretty funny, but that doesn’t mean it’s wise for the potential next President of the United States to be saying these things. Wouldn’t we be safer with a President who actually knows how to be diplomatic?

Anyway, rather than just limit this to a debate over Republicans vs. Democrats (and McCain vs. Obama in particular) on defense and foreign relations, I’d like to pose the question “What would it take for the Democrats to take over as the favored party on defense?” My point in the above is that I’m kind of perplexed that it hasn’t happened already.

Democrats would have to spend more on the military than Republicans do. Some bases were closed and some parts of the military were cut under Clinton, so it will be a long time before another Democrat is the “national defense” candidate.

Well, if he gets too diplomatic, he runs the risk of getting bent over, like Neville Chamberlain did in Munich. Or Jimmy Carter in North Korea. Negotiations are lovely, but you need some assurance that the other side will keep their promises. Otherwise, a treaty is nothing more than an autograph collection.

You can not get too diplomatic. You have no reason to sit down at negotiating tables with your friends. You have to talk to your perceived enemies. Otherwise you sit back and imagine they are secretly doing horrible plotting and planning against you. You need the light of day on them and their country. You need the truth.
Repubs seem to like wars. It is good and profitable business, Fortunes have been made. Wonder what our economy would be like if we could slash defense spending by 2/3rds. We would waste it on infrastructure, schools and developing clean energy.

But just spending isn’t good. That gets us closer to military welfare.

I agree. I was just pointing out that this is what Democrats would need to do to be perceived as the “military” candidates.

The American people, or at least a plurality thereof, are “authoritarian” in political orientation. For many years, polls have shown better numbers for Democrats on the economy and Republicans on defense and social issues. In every case, the public prefers the party advocating the larger and more intrusive federal government.

Right, it was the Republican’s in charge that escalated and escalated Vietnam and saw all the huge war profits at the expense of a generation of poor young kids.

Or do you mean just the current Neo-Con Republicans represented by the Dick in Charge Dick Cheney?

Do you really not know that the NeoConservatives are JFK/LBJ hawk Democrats that left the Democratic Party after the rest of the party became more dovish & McGovern was nominated? That’s why they’re “neo-cons.” They’re what used to be called establishment liberals!

What it would take is dividing the US military into strict demarcations between a ‘Defense Force’ and an ‘Offence Force’; it being an unlawful order for a member of the Defence Forces to serve in a war of aggression. Each sign-up would include a contract with a similar term. In other respects members of both branches would operate under the same terms. And there you have it: Democrats as the party of defense.

Of course such a change would not be policy neutral. That would help too.

Is that really how the general public feels? The more spending, the better? Even though our military spending already dwarfs that of any of our allies, much less our enemies?

I would have though/hoped that decreasing our military budget on the whole while increasing spending on a few current priorities (anti-terrorism and whatnot) could be packaged as “reprioritizing to focus on 21st century threats”, or something.