Kathryn Lopez

I'll be the first conservative to admit it's a depressing time to be one. November hurt. To add insult to injury, San Fran Nan's coronation this month made me a bit woozy. Even so, listening to the liberal Iraq non-strategies, I'd be more depressed if I were a Democrat.

As President Bush necessarily stuck by an unpopular war in Iraq, Democrats were quick to condemn him. The afternoon before his prime-time Jan. 10 address to the nation announcing a troop surge, an ultimatum to Iraq, and a warning to Iran and Syria, Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy brought up that "v" word again -- once again comparing Iraq to the failure in Vietnam. He sought to stage a symbolic vote to cut off funds to Iraq. Members of his party ultimately cringed.

As historian Victor Davis Hanson said of the Dems after the speech, "Apparently the party line is that we can't win, but we're afraid to pull out in case we do, and so we will equivocate as we watch the battlefield and make the necessary rhetorical adjustments just in time." He was referring to the likes of new House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who as recently as December announced that he wanted to see an increased number of troops, 20,000 to 30,000 to "dismantle the militias." And even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was pro-surge in a Sunday-show tour pre-Christmas.

A change of mind here or there on the Hill wouldn't bother me, mind you. Heaven knows there are reasons to be discouraged, and any informed citizen wants people to be thinking and rethinking. But the Democratic Party has a bad habit of opposing anything that is George W. Bush's position while offering no real alternative.

Their main problem? Vision. They have none. In his, the official Democratic response to President Bush's new-strategy speech, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin could only offer negativity without an alternative. President Bush is taking us in "the wrong direction," but there appears to be little more to the Durbin position. As Democrats now control Congress -- and could conceivably take the White House in November 2008 -- that's not just a Democratic problem, that's America's problem.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.