Michael Barone

The Democrats have found themselves on the defensive on other issues, as well. Last week, the House Democrats were forced to delay a vote on their version of the revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which among other things would have prohibited surveillance of communications between suspected terrorists abroad and persons in the United States without a court warrant.

The House Democrats were responsive to left-wingers' theoretical concerns about abusive surveillance and unconcerned that most voters don't want the National Security Agency to hang up when Osama bin Laden calls the United States. In any case, they were undercut when Senate Democrats agreed to a revision that did not contain that provision and others unacceptable to the Bush administration.

The House Democratic leadership also backed down last week from its determination to bring a resolution condemning the Turkish government's massacre of Armenians in 1915-16. The Turkish government took umbrage at this, and its parliament voted to authorize military action in Iraq's Kurdish provinces against anti-Turkish Kurdish guerrillas -- a nightmare scenario in the one part of Iraq that has been consistently peaceful and pro-American since 2003.

Senior House Democrats like John Murtha and Ike Skelton said the resolution was a bad idea, and Nancy Pelosi reversed herself (as Speaker Dennis Hastert did on the same issue in 2000, at the request of Bill Clinton).

Democrats are coming face to face with the fact that there's a war on -- and that Americans prefer success to failure. If the choice is between stalemate and withdrawal, as it seemed to be in November 2006, they may favor withdrawal; but if the choice is between victory and withdrawal, they don't want to quit -- or to undermine the effort.

Last week, Democrat Niki Tsongas won a special election with only 51 percent of the vote, in a Massachusetts district where John Kerry won 57 percent in 2004 and would have run much better in 2006. History doesn't stand still -- we're not in 2006 anymore.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM