Does the Republican Party truly believe Iraq is part of the war on terror and that the war on terror is the most important issue facing voters next week? If so, I wish its operatives and candidates would start acting like it instead of running from Iraq and President Bush.
Too many GOP candidates and spokesmen are playing into the Democrats' hands by virtually conceding the Iraq issue -- an issue upon which the Democrats are extremely vulnerable themselves, if challenged.
I know, I know, many readers will think I'm way off base making such an assertion, having bought into the spoon-fed conventional wisdom that Iraq is a guaranteed loser. What is guaranteed is that America will be the loser if we abandon the president on Iraq and abandon the mission there.
I've seen countless Republican politicians sprinting for the tall grass when asked if they support the president's policy on Iraq. Most of them by the way, are incumbents who have most certainly supported Bush's thankless policy but are now afraid to stand by him in the heat of an election contest.
The same holds true for many GOP operatives, not to mention conservative pundits, who are also going wobbly on this difficult war. I watched Elizabeth Dole, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, on "Fox News Sunday" appearing to duck the Iraq question, saying that people have different opinions about the war as a matter of conscience. She eventually got around to pointing out the inferiority of the Democratic position on the war, but she was quite unwilling for the election to be a national referendum on Iraq.
Given this approach by GOP insiders, what is an inquiring voter to think? If Republicans won't stand by President Bush on Iraq, how can we expect the public to? If Republicans think that supporting Bush on this is suicidal, how much more so will it be if they run from it?
It is pure folly for Republicans to think they can escape accountability for Iraq by dodging it. If the prevailing national mood is to "throw the bums out," which is debatable, why do we suppose that is?
We are deluding ourselves if we think it's because of Republican scandals or the values issue. Like it or not, it's mainly about Iraq. Not only does this nation usually lack the stomach for a difficult and protracted war, the Democrats have succeeded to a frightful degree, through their relentless propaganda, in convincing people this is an unjust war launched by an unscrupulous president.