Do we really want Democrats in charge?

Larry Elder

8/24/2006 12:01:00 AM - Larry Elder

Sixty percent of Americans, according to recent polls, consider Iraq a mistake. Given the unpopularity of the war, Democrats expect to capture one, if not both, chambers of Congress this fall. Assuming this happens -- and I still don't believe so -- will Americans be better off?

Sure, anti-war candidate Ned Lamont beat Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., in the Democratic primary. But look at Lamont's "strategy" for the war in Iraq. He calls for a "phased pullout" of troops. A "phased pullout"?

Sen. Lieberman, who disagrees with President Bush on virtually every domestic issue, understands the stakes in Iraq, even if his party members fail to. "I am convinced," wrote Lieberman, "almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if [U.S.] forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country."

During the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah (and Lebanon and Syria and Iran), we justly criticized the Lebanese government for the lack of will or ability to police its southern border. Yet many Democrats want us to leave Iraq and abandon the Iraqi military and police that show the will, if not the ability so far, to police and protect their own country.

Lamont's "phased pullout" would send yet another signal to the enemies to simply wait us out. Osama bin Laden considers America impatient, lacking resolve and unwilling to sacrifice. Recall that our hasty pullout from Vietnam, and subsequent failure to abide by promises made to the South Vietnamese, resulted in a bloodbath in Southeast Asia that left 3 million or more dead.

For insight into the Democrats' brand of appeasement foreign policy, look no farther than former President Jimmy Carter. Just a few months into his presidency, he urged Americans to reconsider our "inordinate fear of communism." Carter kissed then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev on the cheek. Brezhnev invaded Afghanistan.

Carter, a staunch Bush critic, helped to usher in the "Iranian Revolution" of 1979 by leaning on the Shah of Iran to "release political prisoners." To show their gratitude, Iranians seized 90 hostages at the U.S. embassy, holding 52 of them for 444 days, before releasing them minutes after Ronald Reagan took office. At the time of the hostage crisis, Carter sent what some called a believer-to-believer letter in longhand to the Ayatollah Khomeini. The letter praised the ayatollah as a "man of God."

The other major Democrat line of attack accuses the Republicans of fiscal irresponsibility. This is their strongest and most persuasive argument. For it is true that this president, with the approval of the Republican-run legislature, ran up bills at a rate faster than any president since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Even if we exclude the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, homeland security and Katrina relief, the Republican Party turned its back on their alleged "limited government" philosophy.

But the Democrats' primary criticism is to call Republicans too stingy. About the monstrous expansion of Medicare with the prescription bill for seniors, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said, "Because the administration and the Republican leadership refused to provide the funds needed for an adequate drug benefit, more and more seniors are facing the ridiculous 'donut hole.' That's the huge gap which leaves enrollees with major out-of-pocket costs."

About No Child Left Behind, another unwarranted expansion of the federal government in education, Democrats, along with the National Education Association, call it insufficiently funded. "The law requires Washington to pay for it," said NEA President Reg Weaver, "and the fact is that Washington is not keeping that promise. As a result, our parents' tax dollars are getting steered away from the classroom and going towards boosting the profits of testing companies, instead of going towards their children's education."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and other House Democrats recently released a six-pronged "New Direction for America" agenda for change: Real security and immediate phased pullout in Iraq; higher minimum wage; more affordable college; energy independence and lower gas prices; affordable health care; and something called "Retirement Security and Dignity," which calls for shoring up private pensions.

Notice anything missing? Not one word about North Korea. Not one word about Iran. And virtually every one of the six Democrat initiatives requires greater federal government intrusion, higher taxes and contempt for the private sector to compete and innovate. In short, "fiscal irresponsibility."

Americans, despite our uneasiness with the war in Iraq, nevertheless realize the consequences -- in the war against Islamofascism -- of an abrupt abandonment. And the next time you hear a Democrat attack Republicans for "reckless spending," ask the following question: "Aside from defense, where should government cut back?"

The silence will be deafening.