Republicans can't hide from Iraq or the president even if they want to. But by ducking the issue they are being too smart by half. They not only fail to escape accountability for Iraq themselves, they allow Democrats to escape accountability for the recklessness of their prescriptions (and lack thereof) for Iraq. They permit this to be a referendum solely on the problematic nature of the war and the president's policies in a vacuum, instead of a sane, responsible comparison between the respective approaches of the parties. This is maddening when you consider how vulnerable Democrats are on Iraq.
Only because of Republican fecklessness have Democrats been able to get away with fooling voters -- according to the polls -- that they would better handle Iraq, when Democrats to this day have defiantly refused to tell us their plan. What we do know is that they would pursue some form of precipitous withdrawal. Choose to indulge their euphemistic dodge in calling it "redeployment" if you wish, but the truth is they have given up on the mission in Iraq and would act accordingly if in power. For that, they have to be held accountable.
But how can that happen when Republicans themselves cut and run from the issue, thinking they've somehow dodged a poisonous bullet? Instead of turning tail on Iraq and the president, Republicans should turn toward their Democratic opponents and confront them in a fight over Iraq.
We are at a critical juncture in our history where we must decide whether we have the fortitude to persevere in Iraq or abandon it because it is very difficult. If we choose to bail out in the short run, it will make our inevitable return to this global war that much more painful and difficult at such time it eventuates, which in any event won't be very long.
It would be refreshing to see a little statesmanship here from the GOP's movers and shakers instead of their best efforts to emulate politically opportunistic Democrats -- supporting the war when it's expedient, and running from it and President Bush when it appears that it isn't. Now is the time for true statesmen to step forward and demonstrate leadership.