Cal  Thomas

George Orwell, call your office. You can add to your list of opposites ("war is peace," "ignorance is strength" and "freedom is slavery") a new one. It is the emerging plan of congressional Democrats, joined by at least one Democratic presidential candidate: "losing is winning."

After years of embracing defeat and openly saying of Iraq "the war is lost" and "this surge is not accomplishing anything" (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, among others), is that a light at the end of the Democrats' dark tunnel?

Apparently hoping to head off a potentially positive report next month from the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, some leading Democrats are acknowledging that the surge of American troops is succeeding.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who recently returned from Iraq with Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, says, "The military aspects of President Bush's new strategy in Iraq Š appear to have produced some credible and positive results." Levin is by no means a neo-con, noting in a conference call with reporters that the purpose of the surge was to help produce a political settlement, which has not yet been achieved. Still, even acknowledging progress on the ground is a far cry from a spokesperson for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said recently that Democratic leaders are "not willing to concede there are positive things to point to" in Iraq. That was less than a month ago, but some are willing to make such a concession now for the same reason they weren't before: politics.

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, Washington Democrat, voted against authorization for President Bush to invade Iraq. But he told the Olympian newspaper he is convinced the military needs more time in the region and that a hasty pullout would produce chaos that could only help Iran and damage U.S. security. Baird, too, recently returned from a visit to the region, including Iraq.

Even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who can't afford to be on the wrong side of victory no matter how far away it might seem, acknowledges the troop surge is producing results. So does Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin. Of course, they quickly add, as did Levin, that a political settlement has not yet been achieved and isn't the Iraqi government just awful for taking an August vacation? This is said while Congress is on vacation. In politics and with vacations, this is known as trying to have it both ways so that no matter how things turn out, Democrats can claim they were on the right side all along.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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