The uncomfortable truth is that many -- not most, but many -- Democratic politicians and Democratic voters saw political benefit in an American defeat in Iraq. Many, including Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, then boss of Obama's new Chief of Staff Pete Rouse, thronged to the Washington premiere of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." They tried to give every appearance of agreeing with the "Bush-lied-people-died" crowd and with those who charged that high officials colluded in systematic torture.
It was a lot of fun while it lasted, up to election night 2008 and Inauguration Day 2009. But then Barack Obama had to govern. Knowing little of military affairs, he retained Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has loyally served presidents of both parties. Understanding even if not admitting the great headway Americans had made in Iraq, Obama declined to throw it all away.
Appreciating that Afghanistan was critical to protecting Americans, he made a commitment to increase troop levels there in May 2009, reconsidered it from August to November, then restated it Dec. 1, with a commitment to begin withdrawals in July 2011.
In so doing, Obama implicitly confessed that the view of the world held with quasi-religious fervor by the Democratic left was delusional all along. Bush didn't lie, we didn't go into Afghanistan and Iraq without allies and against their wishes, we didn't carry out policies of torture, etc. The effort to cast Iraq as another Vietnam and America under Bush as an oppressive rogue power were perhaps emotionally satisfying but unconnected to reality.
Without saying so, Barack Obama has found himself having to teach this lesson to the Adam Serwers of the world. They don't like hearing it. They're keeping their ears plugged up and their eyes defiantly shut. Their MyObama webpages are inactive, and their checkbooks are closed. They've tuned out of the campaign, and many of them won't even vote.
The president they helped elect -- and the world -- have turned out not to be what they thought.
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