George Will

The Vietnam antiwar movement began to burgeon in 1965. It reached its apogee in 1972 with the capture of the Democratic Party and the nomination of the movement's choice for president. When that nominee, George McGovern, proceeded to lose 49 states, the movement, with the imperviousness to evidence that fanaticism confers, was unshaken in its belief that it was the moral majority. That derangement is now being reprised in the likes of Tom Daschle.

The Senate minority leader is the most prominent national Democrat and will remain such until a presidential nominee is chosen. Daschle, who five years ago voted with a unanimous Senate to endorse regime change as U.S. policy regarding Iraq, and who 5 months ago voted with a majority of Senate Democrats for a resolution that did not mention the need for French or U.N. approval in authorizing the use of force--the incredible shrinking Daschle from George McGovern's South Dakota--now says that the president of the United States, not the president of Iraq, is the cause of war.

Monday, a few hours before the president spoke, Daschle said the president had ``failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war.'' Well.

Presumably Daschle meant that Bush has failed to secure the support of the French and a majority of other Security Council members for enforcing the plain meaning of Resolution 1441, which the French co-authored and which the Security Council unanimously adopted. But had the president succeeded, the result would have been the ``serious consequences'' 1441 calls for: war. The French and everyone else, including Daschle--the regime-change-endorsing, use-of-force-authorizing Daschle--understood that.

So Daschle's position is: America is ``forced to war'' because presidential diplomacy failed to produce a broader coalition for war. With that descent into absurdity, Daschle would have forfeited his reputation for seriousness, if he had one.

There are many honorable exceptions--although with varying degrees of clarity--among the Democrats. Presidential candidates Joseph Lieberman and Dick Gephardt particularly stand out as plausible presidents.

As for Daschle, he has become the Democrats' Trent Lott, with two differences. Lott was embarrassing about 1948, not 2003. And his fellow Republicans were embarrassed.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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