There must have been times when Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker thought they were back in embattled Sadr City when they faced Democrats on Capitol Hill this week -- no Iraqi insurgents or al Sadr militiamen could have been more hostile.
No wonder. The goals of the Democrats and both al Qaeda and al Sadr insurgents are the same: the defeat of the United States in the war in Iraq.
From the opening statement by Sen. Carl Levin -- a vitriolic tirade against the war -- to the less vehement but equally unfriendly statements by the Clinton woman and her rival for their party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrats made no secret of their burning desire to see the United States humiliated by a defeat in Iraq.
Clinton derided the obvious fact that a hasty withdrawal from Iraq would be dangerously irresponsible, and refused to admit that the surge is working: "I think it could be fair to say that it might well be irresponsible to continue the policy that has not produced the results that have been promised time and time again at such tremendous cost," she told Petraeus, blithely ignoring the continuing successes of his strategy.
Let's just get out and to hell with the consequences was the gist of what she said.
Obama defined success in Iraq as when "there's still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it's not a threat to its neighbors and it's not an al-Qaeda base," while failing to recognize that the near-immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces would create a nightmare situation in the entire region.
As Jacob Laksin wrote in FrontPageMagazine.com on April 10 (Petraeus vs. The Party of Defeat): "In the end, neither Democratic candidate gave any indication that they understand the stakes in Iraq. Nor was there any evidence that they -- or anyone else in their party -- would be willing to make the necessary if unpopular decisions needed for success."
Laksin noted that Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman had described the Democrats' attitude this week as "hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, and most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq."
He could have added that his former party had reversed Gen. Douglas McArthur's declaration that there is no substitute for victory to read, "There is no substitute for your country's defeat when you want to win elections."
Although targeted from the outset, both Petraeus and Crocker managed manfully to withstand the often nasty implications inherent in the Democrats' questioning. Petraeus even treated Mrs. Clinton as if she were a lady, despite the fact that the last time he came to the Hill to talk about the situation in Iraq she all but called him a liar before his appearance.