I wonder if Democrats are getting the slightest bit nervous about the news — hot off the presses — that Iraqi security forces are actually taking over primary control of defense operations in Iraq. That might not bode well for their prospects to recapture control of Congress.
One of the Democrats’ major complaints has been that we have been too slow in training Iraqi troops, thereby delaying the end or significant downscaling of the American presence there. Of course the Democrats’ criticism here is not a policy matter, but one of military implementation. So when they blame President Bush for the delays, they are actually blaming the military they claim to support. It is ludicrous to suggest that President Bush wouldn’t do everything he could, at the policy level, to expedite the training of Iraqi troops.
This is just one illustration of how events beyond either party’s immediate control could have a dramatic impact on the November elections. Things can change weekly in the war, which is why it is risky for Democrats to put all their campaign eggs in the Iraq basket.
Actually, a more accurate metaphor would be that they have put no eggs in the war policy basket, but have been trying merely to destroy the eggs President Bush has placed in the basket. They are relying exclusively on deriding President Bush’s policies, while conspicuously and defiantly offering no alternative policy agenda of their own.
When pressed for a plan, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, and DNC Chairman Howard Dean have all said, in effect, that it isn’t incumbent on Democrats to come up with a plan; their naked criticism is sufficient.
When further pressed, they promised to present a plan but repeatedly missed their deadlines to produce it. Finally, they did present a "plan," which was nothing more than a broad statement of policy goals that were not that different in substance from current policy. They said they wanted to effect a transition of control to Iraqi forces during 2006. Well, who doesn’t?
Oh, I almost forgot, they also said their leadership would be "tough and smart," which doubtlessly had Osama quaking in his boots.
The revelation that the Iraqi forces are about to take over — the transition is projected to be completed by the end of 2007 — will take the wind out of the sails of the only semblance of a plan the Democrats have offered. So the news — if it holds — both emasculates their empty criticism and exposes their non-plan as a moot nonstarter.
Apart from this news, I’m still not joining the hand wringers over predictions of a Democratic sweep in November, because before the election they’ll have to offer something beyond specious criticism. When that time comes, it will be plain for most to see that they have nothing constructive to contribute.
Even their rainy day demands for immediate (or almost immediate) withdrawal have been shown to be disingenuous. When Republicans called their bluff and forced the issue to a vote, they folded. When critics challenged John Kerry on his irresponsible withdrawal demands, he denied making them, kind of like he denies his liberalism. He sputtered such inanities as "I’m not for immediate withdrawal, but timetables for success," and other such embarrassing gibberish." It is difficult to take these people seriously on these very serious issues.
Democrats face another obstacle in their salivating quest to regain control: President Bush has begun to fight back with a vigor we haven’t seen in months. He has been deliberate, aggressive, assertive and persuasive in his recent war speeches, making it clear that only he and Republicans offer any real credible war leadership.
Democrats are quite upset that President Bush is fighting back, something they don’t think he ought to be allowed to do. But he is, and none too soon. He’s in their faces, just where he ought to be, remaking the case for utilizing the necessary tools to prosecute the war, like the NSA terrorist surveillance program. It was no accident that he labeled it thus, rather than acquiescing to the Democrats’ deceptive mischaracterization of it as "domestic spying" on innocent old ladies. He must continue with similarly direct rhetoric, challenging each and every other myth the liberals have advanced.
While I’m not dismissive of the possibility that Democrats could regain congressional control in November, the elections are still the Republicans to lose. The Republicans’ real risk comes from disgruntled conservatives who have threatened to stay home over immigration and domestic spending, which would be a mistake with disastrous consequences for the national interest. Conservatives must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Unless they do, Democrats will certainly not recapture control.