David Weigel notes how the anti-war left is “moving on” after failing to “stop the war”:
If you’d said in January 2007 that Congress would fully fund the Iraq War, that there would be no timelines, and that a pro-war group fronted by Ari Fleischer would humiliate MoveOn… well, you’d be smarter than me.
It’s interesting to see that the surrender caucus has basically surrendered themselves. All the talk about how they were going to “end the war” ended up hitting the brick wall of reality. The Democrats didn’t have the votes, and the idea that there was a massive groundswell of opposition to the war never materialized. The reason behind that is rather simple: this war doesn’t effect most of us. This is not Vietnam. There’s no draft, the people fighting in Iraq are people who signed up to be in the military, not conscripts. Iraq is a theoretical issue for 90% of this country. They may not like the war, but it’s not something that directly effects them.
The other problem is that the anti-war left overplayed its hand. They immediately pronounced the surge to be a failure: which left them looking like idiots when the surge actually worked. To use a poker metaphor, the Democrats went all in thinking that they had a good hand—but when the flop actually came down, they ended up losing. Now the Democrats are in the unnecessary position of having to backtrack on their own rhetoric. It just proves the point that many of us have been making for years now: the Democratic Party is invested in failure in Iraq, and victory in Iraq is a loss for them. At some level, that comes down as unseemly, even for those who oppose the war.
I don’t think Iraq will be a major political issue. Al-Qaeda is unable to mount a convincing counteroffensive. Each day they wait they lose more, so if they had the capability of punching back it seems likely they’d have done it by now. Unless there’s a mass-casualty event, the American people have accepted Iraq as part of life. It doesn’t effect them, and it doesn’t fire people up who aren’t already anti-war.
That won’t stop the Democrats from using Iraq as a campaign issue, and Democrats respond strongly to it. However, it’s not the major issue that it was in 2004 and 2006 (and it wasn’t even the key issue in 2006). The Democrats bought into their own rhetoric: they assumed they won because of a groundswell of opposition to the war rather than the lack of leadership among the Republicans. They overplayed their hand, and now they’ve been forced to surrendering on surrender.