Dems split between soft and semi soft on terror

Herald Tribune:

An ardent lifelong Democrat, Hillary Keyes thought that when her party took control of Congress, it would finally bring an end to the Iraq war. After all, to her the 2006 election was a mandate on Iraq.

But Keyes is at the 2007 state Democratic Party convention this weekend, still pleading with members of Congress from her own party to end the war.

"It's so frustrating," said Keyes, of Boca Raton. "People I know are frustrated with the Democratic Party."

While the war for most is the biggest issue in America, ending it has become a serious dividing point for Democrats. At the state Democratic Party convention, the division is hard to miss.

While state Democrats were listening to U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speak on Saturday, anti-war activists were a few miles away demanding an end to the war and expressing doubt that Democrats would stand up and get the job done.

Many Democrats see Hoyer's moderate approach to Iraq as a key reason why Democrats in Congress have settled for modest bipartisan measures to bring incremental change rather than bringing the troops home and challenging Bush more aggressively.

To some Democrats, it looks like their party's leaders are afraid that Republicans will label them as irresponsible if they advocate immediate withdrawal.

That includes the presidential candidates, who some say should be more aggressive in calling for an end to the war.

"The Republicans have been able to play the card calling the Democrats 'soft on terror,' and so most of the candidates haven't come out strong enough against it," said Jim White of Gainesville.

White was one of about 300 people who attended the anti-war rally in downtown Orlando. Many at the rally said Democrats need to do more to bring the troops home.

"I'm at a loss," said Nancy O'Byrne, a Democrat from St. Augustine who attended the United for Peace and Justice rally. "Democrats aren't any better on the war issue than the Republicans. Very few would get our troops out and home and not leave any behind. A lot of candidates are backpedaling on their stance on the war and I'm not sure why. Seventy percent of Americans want this war to end."

One of the reasons that Democrats cannot effectively rule is that a significant minority in the party want to lose the war and do not care about the political or foreign policy consequences of such a loss. The semi soft know that those consequences would be bad for the country and the party, but they are searching for a way to appease the unappeasable. It should be clear to most people that the best way to get the troops home is after a victory, but the loser lobby in the Democrat party finds that solution even more objectionable because they want Iraq to be a disaster that will prevent the sue of force in the future. If it is a victory, they have lost their argument.


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