There is an idea out there. Perhaps not a fully formed one. Perhaps more like the whisper of one gusting like a sudden draft through the rafters of the conservative house, causing some to look toward the attic and ask fearfully, "What was that?"
This wisp of a notion is simply this: Maybe a Democrat should win in 2008.
Personally, I don't believe in this poltergeist, at least not yet. But every now and then, I must confess, I do shiver from its touch.
The idea goes something like this: If you believe that the war on terror is real, then you think it is inevitable that more and bloodier conflicts with radical Islam are on the way, regardless of who is in the White House. If the clash of civilizations is afoot, then the issues separating Democrats and Republicans are as pressing as whether the captain of the Titanic is going to have fish or chicken for dinner. There's a showdown coming. Period. My task isn't to convince you that this view is correct, but merely that it is honestly and firmly held by many on the right and by a comparative handful on the left.
And that's the problem: Only a handful of people on the left - and far too few liberals - see radical Islamists as a bigger threat than George W. Bush. Which is why if you really think that we are in an existential conflict with a deadly enemy, there's a good case for the Democrats to take the reins. Not because Democrats are better, wiser or more responsible about foreign policy, but, just the opposite, because the Democrats have been such irresponsible backseat drivers that they have to be forced to take the wheel to grasp how treacherous the road ahead is.
The current spectacle in Congress has made it clear that the Democrats don't believe that the war in Iraq is America's war. They think it's Bush's vanity project turned albatross, but they won't take responsibility for their convictions. They fawned on Gen. David Petraeus like schoolgirls, confirming him as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq almost instantly, but they denounce the escalation he helped design and is tasked with implementing. And on the floor of the House this week, they bragged to the antiwar base how consequential their resolution is while they denounced the pro-war right for suggesting it will have consequences.