When it comes to issues of war, Democrats are an intimidated lot. Sens. Clinton, Edwards, Biden, Dodd and Reid were all stampeded by Bush into voting him a blank check for war in October 2002. Why? Because they feared Bush would declare them weak or unpatriotic if they denied him the authority to go to war, at a time of his choosing, until he had made a more compelling case for war.
Now they regret what they did. But, in a showdown, they will do it again. For Democrats have been psychologically damaged by 60 years of GOP attacks on them as the party of retreat and surrender.
Their hero, FDR, was posthumously ripped apart for Yalta, the appeasement of "Uncle Joe," and the abandonment to communism of Poland and Eastern Europe. Truman fired Gen. MacArthur, fought a no-win war in Korea and was savaged, along with Gen. Marshall and Dean Acheson, by Joe McCarthy. By 1952, Truman was at 23 percent and finished. In January 1954, the Tailgunner was riding high at 50 percent.
Came then Vietnam and the credible charge that the Liberal Establishment, The Best and the Brightest, had marched us in, then cut and run, abandoning our Vietnamese and Cambodian allies to a holocaust, and bringing on the worst strategic defeat in U.S. history.
When Ronald Reagan, in the closing days of the 1980 campaign, declared Vietnam a "noble cause," the liberal media leapt on it as a gaffe. It wasn't. Reagan was wired in to Middle America.
John Kerry understood this. Thus, he ran in 2004 as a decorated Vietnam vet, not the onetime icon of the antiwar movement.
Bush is winning today because he has jettisoned the jabber about global democracy and argues that a U.S. withdrawal risks a strategic disaster, national humiliation, massacre of our friends and triumph for al-Qaida. Democrats, fearing he may be right, are in paralysis.
Scourged for 20 years over "Who Lost China?" they don't want to spend the next 20 years answering "Who Lost the Middle East?"
Thus the rout of the peace Democrats. But the movement will be back. For, Petraeus' good news notwithstanding, there is no light yet visible at the end of this tunnel.