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.
But with the Democratic Party's fair-weather attitude toward Israel over the years and the Left's oft-expressed sympathy for Palestinian grievances against Israel, it's hard to take seriously their feints toward outrage at the prime minister's position on Hezbollah. It's hard not to laugh -- given their unwavering opposition to President Bush -- when they say al Maliki should not be given a platform because he opposes U.S. foreign policy goals. But it isn't hard to conclude that what is motivating them to criticize him is their unfailing policy to oppose everything we do in Iraq.
Indeed if the Democrats weren't so preprogrammed to oppose all things Iraq all the time, they might have been heartened by the prime minister's message to Congress: his affirmation of Iraq's commitment to democracy, his strong denunciation of terrorism, his expressions of gratitude to the United States, and his earnest plea that we not abandon our mission.
But considering the anti-Iraq corner in which Democrats have placed themselves, it would be difficult for them to applaud al Maliki's optimism, much less his confirmation that Iraq is the front line in the war on terror.
While Sen. Durbin said some parts of the prime minister's speech were encouraging, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to condemn America's losses and expenditures in Iraq and to chide Iraq for not doing enough to take over the primary role in defending itself. Most offensively, he scolded Iraqis for not demonstrating a sufficient willingness to demonstrate they are willing to die for their own cause. Presumably Durbin is unaware of the Iraqi elections where Iraqi voters risked their lives to participate and of the huge number of Iraqi casualties in this war.
Durbin's co-critic, Sen. Jack Reed, took the podium to contradict al Maliki's favorable description of Iraq's economy and his "oversimpli[fication]" of the situation in Iraq. Reed said, "[Al Maliki] needs more than determination and public statements … ; he needs a plan …" Deja vu, anyone?
Ask yourselves: Why are Democrats so determined to slug the prime minister in the gut and discourage and insult the Iraqis who are caught in a life-threatening struggle for freedom by refusing to let stand -- even for a few brief diplomatic moments -- al Maliki's encouraging words about Iraqi progress?
Simple: Democrats have staked out their position on Iraq, and they will try to destroy anything or anyone who gets in their way.