At some point, the Democratic primary will be settled, and discussions about the war in Iraq will enter the real world in which not everything that goes wrong is President Bush's fault. In that world, it won't fly if Clinton says, as she did during a Democratic debate last year, "I think it's particularly important to point out this is George Bush's war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war."
Forget, if you will, that Clinton and 76 other senators voted (for the resolution) to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. This is America's war. To troops stationed in Iraq, it doesn't matter who started it. It does matter, however, that their sacrifices count for something.
And it doesn't help U.S. troops, whose morale has been boosted by the surge's success, when Clinton announces, as she did again last week, that the Iraq War is "a war we cannot win."
When the general election begins, Americans will have a choice between two views -- one that argues that America somehow will emerge stronger after a quick retreat from Iraq, and one that argues that fighting for a secure Iraq will make America safer. One view holds that if Washington withdraws U.S. troops, Iraqis will step up to the plate. The other view holds that, as a senior administration official told me last month, "If it looks like we're heading out the door, they go to their sectarian corners and start building bunkers."
Last week, Clinton said in her Iraq speech, "The reality is that this war has made the terrorists stronger." Likewise from Obama: "Above all, the war in Iraq has emboldened al-Qaida." But if the terrorists are stronger and bolder, why are they losing ground in Iraq? Why are they in hiding elsewhere?
And why have leading Democrats begun to frame the Iraq War, not just as a war that cannot be won, but as an expensive engagement that is driving up the price of gasoline for Americans?