The Meltdown Democrats

Delaware Democrat Joe Biden’s rhetorical cross burning made him the poster boy for the Democrats’ presidential meltdown. Announcing his candidacy to the yawns of the assembled, Biden said of rival Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), that he was, "[T]he first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." The Rev — Al Sharpton this time, not Jesse Jackson though both are ever eager for a sound bite — apparently called Biden and assured him that, "I take a bath every day." Which is more than we needed to know. Accompanying the merriment at Biden’s expense was Hillary’s Iowa meltdown.

Ms. Clinton — panicked into a premature declaration by Sen. Obama’s earlier formation of an "exploratory committee" — made a joke. To understand Hillary you have to understand that nothing she does — says, smiles, frowns, wears, winks or walks — is unplanned. She is as spontaneous as a space shuttle launch (and a lot less fun). So when she said to an Iowa audience that, "The question is, we face a lot of dangers in the world and, in the gentleman’s words, we face a lot of evil men and what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men," according to a NewsMax report she "paused to gaze while the audience interrupted with about 30 seconds of laughter and applause." (Apparently, the audience cue lights were only for laughter and applause and not a standing ovation. She’ll need better joke writers for that.)

But just what does qualify Ms. Clinton to deal with Ahmadinejad, bin Laden and the rest? Nothing. Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe suffered a personal meltdown when I made that point on Thursday night’s "Kudlow & Company" on CNBC. There is no answer to that question: Hillary Clinton is abjectly unqualified by training or experience to be president. She’s never governed a city or state, never commanded a military unit, never run a corporation. The only thing she’s ever "run" is her immediate family, of which Lil’ Billy made a shambles. Hillary is no more qualified to be president than is Barack Obama. Because there’s no substance to Hillary — only carefully-crafted image — McAuliffe could only shout personal insults in response. Please, Terry. The whole country can see why the Democrats are in such a state of discombobulation.

It’s because the president is winning the argument on Iraq, and the Congress — on both sides of the aisle — is making itself look more ridiculous with each passing day. At the Dems’ party retreat (a redundancy I hope you’ll permit), President Bush said the Iraq war was "sapping our souls." That was probably another one of those signature Bush malapropisms. He obviously meant meant, "soiling our saps." Sen. Chuck Hagel (RINO-Neb.) has scored a big hit on the evening news by pointing to his colleagues and telling them that they’d better make their positions known (this, in the midst of a televised hearing in which each senator on the panel harrumphed out his position. But neither he nor the other RINOs and Dems have gained any traction with their "non-binding" irresolutions. Congress is making itself less and less relevant while the Dems continue to implode on Iraq. Don’t believe it? Listen again, if you can bear it, to Joe Biden.

Of Hillary’s plan to take funding away from the Iraqis, Biden said sarcastically, "From…Hillary’s proposal, the part that really baffles me is, ‘We’re going to teach the Iraqis a lesson.’ We’re not going to equip them? O.K. Cap our troops and withdraw support from the Iraqis? That’s a real good idea." Biden said Clinton’s plan would lead to disaster. And it would. That part of Clinton’s plan was about as good as the rest of it that Clinton announced on Friday: "You have to have 60 votes to cap troops, to limit funding to do anything. If we in Congress don’t end this war before January 2009, as president, I will." George McGovern couldn’t have said it better, and wouldn’t have said it differently. By comparison, Barack Obama sounds almost reasonable. Which is apparently his strategy.

The same day Hilary spoke, Obama reminded Democrats that he was against the Iraq war from the beginning, saying, "But whether you were for it or against it then, we all have a responsibility now to put forth a plan that offers a chance of ending the bloodshed and bringing the troops home." In the plainer language used by Breck Girl John Edwards on Meet the Press, that means cutting off funds for the war. Edwards has an excuse neither Clinton nor Obama has: he hung out with Vichy John Kerry too long to avoid infection with the Jane Fonda Syndrome. So just where are the Democrats on Iraq?

Everywhere. Nowhere. Fingers to the wind, frantically focus-grouping and groping for something that will sell in 2008. This week they’ll take their antiwar recklessness to the next level. The president’s budget will ask for about $245 billion to fund the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Dems will scream that he’s depriving old people of life-saving medicines and hospital care to fund his military adventure. They’ll declare the budget DOA and will fight to cut military spending — on the war, readiness and replenishment — to fatten up their favorite entitlement programs.

They’ll say, as one New York Times report supposedly did, that President Bush is seeking far greater cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than any other president has. Well, that’s at least what Al-Jazeera reported the NYT wrote. Nevertheless, it may be true. Who believes that there is no fat to be cut from Medicaid and Medicare? And isn’t cutting unnecessary spending what we elect Republicans to do?