What’s more incredible, the number of Americans convinced that ISIS has agents in the homeland already, or the fact that CNN posed this factual question to voters who could not possibly know?

We’ve done this recap before, but once again: The United States began airstrikes on ISIS-controlled targets in Iraq last month. On Aug. 18, the airstrikes helped Iraqi forces take back the Mosul Dam from ISIS. The next day, ISIS released a video of captured journalist James Foley being beheaded by one of its men.


The video, surely meant to sow fear and breed overreaction, succeeded magnificently. The panic showing up in polls, in which the number of Americans favoring airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has surged, has been matched by a return of panic-first politics. In a Colorado forum this week, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall suggested that “Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive” and that “horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.” The invocation of two dead men who couldn’t speak for themselves was stupid, but the response from Udall’s rival Cory Gardner went beyond the personal. “It’s deeply troubling that he views a terrorist organization like ISIL as not an imminent threat to America,” said Gardner.

Imminent threat. Does anybody remember the last time we were told that Iraq had produced an “imminent threat” to American lives? Better to just stain the sheets and hit the panic button, I guess. The long Democratic dream, from Kerry to Obama, of reducing terrorism from an existential threat to a managable nuisance, is just not an election-winner.