Bill Murchison

Notes on why Middle Easterners might be a little mixed up on the merits of "democracy" as preached by the Bush administration.

1. Democrats -- American-style -- tear apart our wartime Republican commander-in-chief. It's not that the Democrats exactly want to lose the war in Iraq -- they keep telling us so, you know -- it's that they all too clearly don't exactly want the Bush administration to win it. Democrats assess the war as a failure, on account of our troops' continuing efforts to beat back squads of homicidal maniacs who use tactics unknown in military history and are therefore (as the Democrats see it) unconquerable.

Better to stop fighting, Democrats reason, than to pursue an engagement to which the great majority of them consented back when fighting the war seemed better politics than opposing it. There may be epithets and accusations the Democrats haven't yet hurled at the commander-in-chief, but if so, we may count on their early discovery by the Democratic propaganda machine -- assuming one can hear the thing over raucous Middle Eastern laughter.

2. A Republican congressman, Mark Foley, so enjoys public affairs that he extends the action after hours, and online, with teenage Capitol Hill pages, to some of whom he writes explicit e-mails having to do with sexual functions. Then, when found out, he resigns from Congress and commits himself to rehabilitation for alcoholism. Nice excuse implied there: I was drunk. Not depraved -- drunk; three sheets under the wind; soused; pickled; couldn't help it.

Gets better: Democrats seek to portray the whole matter as due to Republican dereliction. (What did the leadership know, and when did it know it?) Dismayed Republicans wonder whether House control will flip to the Democrats on account of the back-and-forth over what is said to be Foley's status as a closeted gay -- which shouldn't matter to Democrats, as he generally voted the gay line, but could matter to evangelical Republicans who weren't all that happy with the party this year anyway.

All this while Iraq festers, Afghanistan seethes and Iran plots who knows what: all those people, come to think of it, we want to become good democrats -- lowercase "d" variety.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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