The Washington Post notes that the Democrats appear to be backing away from their own position on the war:
Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean’s declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that “the idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.”
The critics said that comment could reinforce popular perceptions that the party is weak on military matters and divert attention from the president’s growing political problems on the war and other issues. “Dean’s take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and unhelpful,” said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean’s famous election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.
Dean isn’t the only Democrat making noises about surrender – Nancy Pelosi has said that half the Democratic caucus supports the Murtha withdrawal proposal – despite the fact that only 3 members of the House bothered to actually vote for it when it was put up for a vote. As the Investor’s Business Daily notes the Democrats are deeply divided over this issue:
Some Democratic leaders are also putting distance between themselves and the top-ranking Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi of California. Pelosi has embraced Rep. John Murtha’s, D-Pa., idea to bring U.S. forces home over six months.
The dissenters include Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., former senior White House aide to President Clinton. As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, his job is to coordinate fundraising and strategy that will get Democrats elected to the House next year â€” so it’s certain he’s always thinking about votes.
Another is the Democrat second in rank to Pelosi in the House, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. The Washington Post reports that Emanuel and Hoyer have told fellow Democrats in Congress that Pelosi’s posturing on Iraq could backfire on the party.
Hoyer went so far as to issue a statement that seemed to aim straight at Dean and Pelosi:
“I believe that a precipitous withdrawal of American forces in Iraq could lead to disaster, spawning a civil war, fostering a haven for terrorists and damaging our nation’s security and credibility.”
Other Democrats sounded much closer to the White House position than to that of Dean and Pelosi. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who sits on both the Armed Services and the International Relations committees, recently visited Iraq and said this week: “It’s not helpful for Democrats to say all is lost. We need a stable Iraq that is not a haven for terrorists.”
The Democrats are hoping that the war will split the Republican base and expose the President’s weaknesses in time for 2006. On that account, they’re dead wrong. The war is the issue that unites most Republicans, and even the “dissenters” in the GOP such as Chuck Hagel or John McCain all adamantly reject any talk of an arbitrary timetable for withdrawal.
Dean and Pelosi’s comments were incredibly stupid. If half the Democratic House Caucus is for a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, why aren’t more speaking out for it? Why did only 3 Democrats actually vote for the Murtha plan? And what does that say about the Democratic Party as a whole – that they believe that the war is totally unwinnable but don’t have the spines to actually vote for withdrawal? No wonder the majority of Americans see the Democratic position on the war as based on political expedience above all else.
Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark are actually coming up with plans to achieve lasting peace in Iraq and prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for terrorism while other Democrats don’t seem to care about either. If anything, the rabidly anti-war MoveOn.org/George Soros/Daily Kos wing of the Democratic Party will continue to push the Democrats further and further to the radical fringe left, forcing them to play to that base and ensuring that they cannot have a consistent and coherent plan for national security – which is exactly what happened in 2002 and 2004.
The Democrats don’t have a coherent national security strategy. They don’t have an Iraq strategy, and half the party is all about waving the white flag and running away. There are individual Democrats who are quite strong on both issues, but the MoveOn wing of the party keeps marginalizing them. (Just look at what’s happened to Joe Lieberman for his audacity in saying that all is not lost in Iraq…) That isn’t a strategy for victory, that’s a strategy for the Democratic Party’s third consecutive electoral loss.
The Democrats cannot win so long as they’re divided on the war, and if they take the side of the Dean/Pelosi/Murtha preemptive surrender wing, they’ll lose anyway. If the Democrats were smart, they’d start showing how they support victory in Iraq and how they would achieve it. The fundamental problem they face is that Dean and Pelosi are saying exactly what they think – that America cannot win. So long as that idea remains prevalent in the Democratic Party they will be – and should be – a minority party.