David Keene

An old Democratic friend of mine stopped by the Monocle last week and while there ran into a Democratic senator of long acquaintance. The Senator was, of course, quite pleased with the outcome of the election and is looking forward to the perks and responsibilities that go with being in the majority.

The two talked for a few minutes, but the Senator was more than a little taken aback when my friend asked him what he and his fellow Democrats intend to do with the war they managed to acquire with their new majority. "What do you mean?" he said. "Iraq is Bush's war and his problem." "Oh, no," my friend responded, "it was his war until Nov. 9, but your party ran condemning the war, Bush's management of it and promised to end it in one way or another. Now, you guys are going to have to come up with a plan because you are in the majority and with the majority comes responsibility … especially on problems voters believe you promised to solve."

It was a sobering thought and the senator was momentarily speechless, but then got very, very cautious and assured my friend that most Democrats believe it would be dangerous to do anything precipitous. Fortunately, there was no one from MoveOn.Org at the next table.

To be fair, my friend overstated the degree to which Democrats have to single - handedly solve the Iraq problem, but voters are not likely to long tolerate their pre - election act of attacking Bush at every turn while offering nothing, or less than nothing, in the way of a realistic alternative.

After all, while there was more to the election than the war, most of the 20 percent or so of those who voted and said the war was their No. 1 concern voted this year for Democrats because they don't like the way things have turned out for us in Iraq and are hoping for better.

It is true that many of the Democratic Party's ideological allies and financial supporters seem to actually believe that the problem is nutcases who would pervert their religion to justify terror, torture and genocide, all on account of the U.S. They would argue, one suspects, that since it is our presence in the region that "creates" terrorists, all we have to do is leave and the problem will vanish.

David Keene

David A. Keene is the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a managing associate with the Carmen Group, a Washington, D.C.-based governmental-affairs firm.

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