It is incomprehensible that Republicans are not jumping all over politicians who are calling for a telegraphed timetable for American troop withdrawal from Iraq.
It took the administration and their colleagues in Congress some two years -- and double digit reductions in the president's approval ratings -- finally to take the offense against the liars lying about the president's non-lies on Iraq. Why are they always relegated to playing catch-up?
When certain shrill partisans first leveled their accusation that Bush lied to get us into war, few paid attention, on the theory that manifestly preposterous allegations need not be refuted.
But as the incessant drumbeat against President Bush continued, steadily undermining trust in him and in the worthiness of our cause in Iraq, "mainstream" Democrats were emboldened to pile on -- even though they were brazenly exposing themselves at the same time (if Bush lied, so did they). In the sordid world of political propaganda, "crime" demonstrably pays.
One would hope that Republicans could learn a lesson from this. For when the antiwar fringe politicians first began to call for withdrawal they weren't even taken seriously. Most people instinctively knew how irresponsible their demands were.
But encouraged by their success in eroding the public's trust in the president, Democrat leaders have jumped aboard the reckless withdrawal train as well.
Just as the Bush administration has begun to fire back at the deceivers, playing tapes of their own jingoistic jabber, they proposed legislation to compel the president to establish a timetable for withdrawing troops.
The Republicans, while defeating that measure, have so far passed up an opportunity to turn the tables on their opponents by broadcasting just how grossly irresponsible this effort was. Instead, they passed a lesser bill, which they are trying to spin as a net plus for Republicans, to require the president to issue progress reports on the war.
Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with the president reporting to Congress on the war. If anything, it will give him an opportunity to present a more balanced picture of the story.
But unless Republicans get out front -- rhetorically -- on the "timetable" issue, they risk being subsumed again by the Democrats' relentless propaganda machine, which could eventually result in the United States being forced, through misinformed public opinion, to precipitously withdraw from Iraq.
Republicans must not wait for the Democrat withdrawal cacophony to resume and intensify. They must jump on the appeasers with both feet before they've had a chance to regroup.