Jonathan Garthwaite

For weeks Democrats have worried what the "evil genius," Karl Rove, had up his sleeve for an October surprise.

They hardly suspected the critical blow in the final days of the 2006 campaign would come from their own side.

With the economy doing well, the stock market back in gear, and gas prices back from the stratosphere, Iraq and the war of terror had claimed their spot as the top issues facing many voters.

During the campaigns, Republicans have largely stuck to their principles, believing that Iraq is critical and that Americans can trust them not to get weak-kneed in the war on terror.

On the other side, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the public discontent with progress in Iraq and hope voters will reward them with control of Congress.

If Democrats were going to successfully make that case, then they were going to have to convince Americans that they had the kind of loyalty to our troops that the rest of main-street America shares.

They were worried that an "October surprise" from Rove would do them in, but in the end it was their 2004 standard bearer who dropped the hand grenade in his own foxhole.

Sen. John Kerry, speaking at Pasadena City College about education, said:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

National security has been the top issue for most Americans since Sept. 11, 2001, so if Democrats are going to persuade Americans to give them the reins of government, they have to convince Americans they can be trusted with our troops.

The Democratic Party's history with war is certainly tumultuous and contributes to the feeling that anti-war candidates shouldn't be given control of the machines of war.

Would we have put the no-nukes crowd in charge of the Cold War? Of course not.

Democrats live in their own utopian dream world where no one wants to hurts us or destroy our way of life.

In the Democrats' mind, there is not an Axis of Evil, North Korea isn't a threat, and Osama bin Laden is just a bully who'll stop attacking us if we leave his end of the playground.

Immediately after 9/11, they understood the threat and supported the war on terror. But it wasn't long before their true contempt for the military showed through.

When the stakes are high, Democrats simply can't hide their disdain for the Armed Forces.

Problems on the ground in Iraq had given the Democrats a chance. Even Americans, who support the war effort, have concerns about our progress, and Democrats have exploited that war fatigue.

Jonathan Garthwaite

Jonathan Garthwaite is General Manager of