As Powerline’s John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff note, the Congressional Democrats have had another false start on an “Iraq policy.” The Reid-Pelosi forces now look like one of those epic crashes on a highway brought about by fog or ice.
By contrast, the Congressional Republicans have closed ranks, a recognition on their part, perhaps, that their base will not support the white flag Republcans. The Victory Caucus seems to have gotten a message across.
Today at CPAC both Mayor Giuliani and Governor Romney will give key speeches and both are expected to again declare their support for victory and communicate their understanding of the war, especially the crucial understanding that it is all one war –with fronts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. These speeches will be in sharp contrast with the Clinton-Obama embrace of defeatism (just as the cordial relations between Giuliani and Romney contrasts with the early animosity between the democratic front-runners.) The GOP’s leadership-in-waiting is thus fully committed to a continuation of President Bush’s understanding of the nature of the war and our enemies.
The parties –their leading figures, their Congressional leadership, and their activist bases– have thus realigned on the single issue of the war and how it ought to be prosecuted, and how it ought to be understood. It is very difficult to be a Democrat and be serious about victory in the war, serious about the threat of Iran’s approach to nuclear status, or serious about jihadism’s spread. Similarly, the few isolationist Republicans really don’t have a home in the GOP anymore.
This polarization was inevitable given the left’s decisive turn towards retreat and investment in defeat as a way of demonizing President Bush. But it occurred much more quickly than I had thought possible, and it is a very good thing. Joe Lieberman can’t be the only Democrat wondering about the sudden and complete collapse of his party’s post 9/11 commitment to national security seriousness. The McGovernites came to power in the Democratic Party after Vietnam and the 1974 elections, but learned to downplay their philosophy after the disasters of the Carter years and the triumphs of Reagan. But they have now abandoned caution and are fully transparent in their views if completely confused in how to put those views into action.
The choice between the country could not be more clear. The parties have to work out who will be their standard bearer, but the Democrats will be declaring for defeat and the Republicans for victory no matter who the nominees are. Clarity is a very good thing.