Democrats will be hard pressed to deny their extremism as long as they have mad Howard Dean as their party spokesman. Then again, cashiering Dean wouldn't solve all their problems on that front either, given their leadership's propensity to take the wrong side on important national security issues.
On the day Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki was addressing a joint meeting of Congress seeking America's continued support for Iraq, Dean said, "The Iraqi prime minister's an anti-Semite. We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy in Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."
These are interesting words, coming from a man whom Sen. Joseph Lieberman attacked during the Democratic primary campaign in 2003 for saying, "it's not our place to take sides," in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dean later tried to squirm out of his comment -- he even tried to blame Karl Rove for launching an e-mail campaign to circulate his problematic statement -- but there was no way he could erase his utterances.
Dean's hypocrisy aside, what about other Democratic leaders? Surely they are standing solidly behind the democratically elected Iraqi leader. Think again.
Democrats urged House Speaker Denny Hastert to cancel al Maliki's invitation to address Congress -- saying that if the prime minister's positions are at odds with U.S. foreign policy goals, then he should not be permitted to address American leaders. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer boycotted the speech, and Sens. Dick Durbin and Jack Reed actually issued a public response to it, as if al Maliki is their political opponent.
I can certainly identify with the displeasure over al Maliki's refusal to condemn Hezbollah, but am mindful that he faces a different set of political complexities there. And while Iraq is our ally and its transformation to democracy is a wonderful development, I don't share the sanguine view of some that democracy is a panacea that will lead, for example, to its adoption of pro-Israeli sentiments.