The more Democrats attack President Bush, the less credibility and likeability they have. But there's something else. The more they attack him specifically on the conduct of the war, the more they reveal their age-old Achilles' heel: They are rightly perceived as weak on defense and inept in national security matters. With every bogus charge about the war on terror the Democrats inflict on themselves dual wounds: They paint themselves as untrustworthy and -- dare I utter it? -- unpatriotic.
Democrats, then, are darned if they don't -- their base and their own genuine antipathy toward President Bush compels them to slam him on the war -- and darned if they do, for the reasons stated.
They've richly earned this conundrum. Consider their posturing during the past year. Think of all the fits and starts in their desperation to find some Bush pressure point concerning the war. Let me recite a few off the top of my head.
Remember: "We are going to get bogged down in a quagmire in Afghanistan ... Bush is a unilateralist, ignoring the United Nations and other countries ... There is no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq ... There's no concrete proof of WMDs ... We don't know in advance what the cost will be in money and lives ... We can't protect Iraqi oilfields ... Bush and Cheney only care about Iraqi oil ... The Iraqis don't want to be liberated ... we'll get bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq ... You can't fight Iraq and attend to homeland security simultaneously ... We don't have enough troops in Iraq, thanks to Secretary Rumsfeld ... we started the groundwar without sufficient air strikes preceding it ... ‘Shock and Awe' was neither shocking nor awful ... there are breaks in our supply lines ... We permitted museums to be looted ... Bush lied about WMDs with the 16 words ... War is one thing, but winning the peace is impossible ... Osama and Saddam are still alive."
They are consummate naysayers, who have yet to be held accountable. But November 2004 is looming and, unfortunately for Democrats, the public still vividly remembers September 11, 2001.