Leader Blues

Friday, July 14, 2006

EDITORIAL >> Democratic losers

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: If the Democrats cannot win the 2006 congressional elections, they don’t deserve to be a political party. They will survive as losers, of course, but only because American election laws are a contract between the Democratic and Republican parties to preserve each other no matter what happens.

Given failing wars, a failed Republican president and a deliberate betrayal of the America most of us grew up in, or thought we did — we were taught that Americans went to war only when we were attacked, and we did not endorse torture and the murdering of civilians — it is hard to imagine how the Democrats can lose.
But Democrats have become both good and creative at losing against all odds. They seem ready to adopt a 2006 campaign plan that will keep them wallowing in the minority in Congress. The failed president governs on without the restraint of an aggressive opposition — or a decent respect for the opinion of others, or the checks and balances we thought were in the Constitution.

The losing strategy, I think, would be to stand still in front of forests of American flags and shout: “Iraq! Iraq! Iraq!” Such a campaign would also be punctuated by more hushed mentions of Afghanistan as well.

That’s a mug’s game, a losing game for the Democrats. Why? If the overwhelming majority of Americans realize by the end of the year that invading Iraq was a mistake, why not round them up like so many cattle? The answer is in the question: Americans already know things went terribly wrong and we are governed by incompetent ideologues who rushed in where angels feared to tread.

The problem for the Demo-crats on Iraq is that they cannot or will not come up with any credible arguments about what to do next. The Republican response — “Follow the flag! Stay the course. Support our boys and girls against the ragheads” — will once again top Democratic mealy-mouthed confusion and political cowardice.A campaign that focuses only on Iraq will unite Republicans and divide Democrats. Anti-war feeling is now so high among liberals that it could defeat Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a war enthusiast, in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

In the California primary last month, an underfinanced and unknown anti-war challenger won 37 percent of the Demo-cratic vote against Rep. Jane Harman because of her reluctance to speak out against the war.
More and more Democrats are seeing Iraq as Vietnam in the desert, and they are going to do the same thing they have done in the past: struggle against each other rather than against the Republicans.

Mention the name of Sen. Hillary Clinton, the obvious front-runner for the party’s next presidential nomination, among liberal Democrats these days, and you get a tirade about her support of the war that more or less compares her to Dr. Strangelove. So, politically, I would argue the war will take care of itself. People of all political persuasions already get it.