The scariest words for Democrats in Bush’s speech involved Petraeus directly. Bush said he’s directed the general, along with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, “to deliver another report to Congress in March.” The prospect of a return engagement by Petraeus can only fill Democrats with a feeling of dread.
The congressional critics provided quite a contrast with Petraeus and Crocker. If the general and the ambassador were men at work, the congressmen and senators were–with a few notable exceptions–children at play. They spoke almost entirely in generalizations–often months, sometimes years, out of date. They used selective quotations and cherry-picked facts to play “gotcha.” They offered no meaningful proposals of their own. Petraeus and Crocker live and breathe Iraq, dealing with life-and-death problems seven days a week. Congress bloviates Tuesday through Thursday. That’s one of the reasons to listen to the general and the ambassador rather than the congressional pontificators.
Contrast the posing on the Hill and the irresponsibility of Senators Clinton (D.-MoveOn.org), Obama (D.-MoveOn.org) and Biden (D.-MoveOn.org) with the blunt but upbeat reactions of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Four months before Iowa and a long year away from the presidential debates, we are already assured of the starkest choice on the most important issue. This clarity is a very good thing, and it will profoundly affect the down-ticket races, so much so that all those proclaiming Mark Warner a shoe-in in Virginia or Colorado’s open seat a certain Democratic pick-up should reread the results of the 1980 election.
The Democrats are already committed to a Carter restoration and to accepting defeat in Iraq with all that entails. Both of the leading Republicans are taking Reagan’s line on the Cold War as their approach to the long war: “We win. They lose.”
The last chance for Democrats to repudiate a platform of retreat and defeat passed this week. MoveOn.org sealed the deal the Congressional Democrats have made with the hard left, and all the Democratic presidential candidates signed on as well. An extraordinary week, the events of which will be referred to again and again throughout the next year, and with good reason.