The unabated desperation for defeat of some Dems
...One of the reasons that many in the left are so insistent on defeat is that they need a defeat to use as an argument against the use of force in the future. Success in defeating an insurgency will undermine a key argument they have used in the past to avoid the use of force. They tend to look at every potential conflict as a quagmire waiting to happen and operate on the bogus premise that insurgencies cannot be defeated, when in fact historically they rarely win except when liberal Democrats are in charge. The left also believes it can gain politically by defeat. Can you say McGovern? Many on the left still think communism has never had a fair shot. Some apparently think defeat hasn't either.
The intensity of the left's determination to abandon Iraq was reflected in the reaction to a single line in Hillary Clinton's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars last week. "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq," she said, referring to the surge, "and in some areas, particularly al-Anbar province, it's working."
That mild comment instantly drew fire from Clinton's Democratic rivals. John Edwards's campaign manager, David Bonior, warned her against "undermining the effort in the Congress to end this war." New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, another presidential hopeful, piled on: "The surge is not working. I do not give President Bush the same credit on Iraq that Hillary does." When Barack Obama addressed the VFW one day later, he stuck to the defeatists' script. "Obama Sees a 'Complete Failure' in Iraq," The
New York Timesheadlined its report on Aug. 22.
Within 48 hours, Clinton was scurrying to toe the all-is-lost line once again: "The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution. It has failed. . . . We need to . . . start getting out now."
Since 2002, Clinton has been all over the lot on Iraq. She defended George W. Bush's claims on WMDs. She opposed setting a timetable for withdrawal. She voted yes on authorizing the war. She voted no on funding the troops. We likely haven't seen the last of her shape-shifting.
Clinton is hardly the only presidential candidate prepared to say whatever it takes to get elected or to retreat under pressure from her party's hard-liners. But it is worth pointing out: There is a principled alternative.
Representative Brian Baird of Washington, a liberal Democrat, has opposed the Iraq war from the outset. But having recently come to believe that the new military strategy is working and a premature US withdrawal would be disastrous, he is speaking out in support of staying the course. Naturally he is being denounced on the left; one influential blogger calls him "Dick Cheney's trained monkey." The heat is unpleasant. But Baird is standing his ground.
That is what John F. Kennedy called a profile in courage, and it is troubling that there are no such profiles among the Democrats running for president this year. JFK was elected at a time when Americans could trust his party to confront international threats with resolve. That changed after Vietnam, where the Democratic left insisted on defeat and got its way, only to lose voters' trust on national security for a long time thereafter.
Today the left insists on defeat in Iraq. It beats up any Democrat who strays off-message. It treats good news from the front as "a real big problem." Is that any way to win an election? In the short term, maybe. But we're in the midst of a long-term war -- one that Americans don't want to lose.