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.
And the one guy with the vision is the one they dumped -- Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman -- said in response to the president's speech, "I applaud the President for rejecting the fatalism of failure and pursuing a new course to achieve success in Iraq." He continued, "Our troops have sacrificed much and now more will be asked of them to defend our nation. They fight in a just, noble and moral cause against the forces of terrorism, and their sacrifices will make America and the world more secure. I want our troops to return home as soon as possible -- after we allow, enable and support them in accomplishing their mission in Iraq in finishing this fight." And like the adult at the party he is, Lieberman said pointedly, too, "I know there are deep differences of opinion about what the President has proposed tonight. In the coming days and weeks, we should undertake respectful debate and deliberation over this new plan. But, let us also remember that excessive partisan division and rancor at home only weakens our will to prevail in this war."
Democrats who want to be president are going to have a great burden on the campaign trail - to steer their party into a direction that offers solutions in a war that is reality, not just in Iraq but Iran, Syria and wherever else the jihadist enemy is plotting against us. Complaining about George W. Bush isn't going to change that. And they can't expect to lead on the Reid/Pelosi model, insisting, as these congressional "leaders" have, that "It is time to bring the war to the close." Sadly, we can't wish away a war we didn't start. Reasonable people know that. National Democratic leaders need to get real and a clue.