Paul Greenberg

And the Democratic Party had something to do with the outcome of these elections. The Dems, it seems, have learned from their earlier defeats. Did you notice the number of military men (Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Jim Webb) on the Democratic ballot? Also the number of social conservatives, squeaky-clean types, and pro-business candidates?

This isn't your daddy's Mondale-Dukakis party any more, it's becoming Harry Truman's again. See the satisfying triumph of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut - not exactly a peace-at-any-price candidate.

The day after getting kicked in the teeth, Republicans could only sigh and wish John Kerry had given just one more speech or two. It might have made all the difference in an election as close as this one. But he didn't. Instead he disappeared from view after only one disastrous appearance. And you'd scarcely suspect that somewhere Michael Moore and George Soros must be still around. Who says Democrats can't learn?

Of course, Iraq had something if not everything to do with Republican losses, just as the late unpleasantness in Korea had a lot to do with Democratic setbacks in the congressional elections of 1950.

It's not that Americans are against war; we're just against long, unsuccessful ones - and administrations that can't seem to find a way to win them, or just a way out.

Wednesday morning, George W. Bush demonstrated that he's educable, too. He finally, finally accepted Donald Rumsfeld's offer to resign. It had dawned on him American politics abhors the same old same old in any administration, at least if it keeps producing the same old stalemate.

If victory can't be guaranteed, and it can't ever be, Americans will at least demand change. As they used to say in the service, Do Something Even If It's Wrong.

Another Republican president, at a far more trying time, didn't just stick with the same course and the same commanders and hope for the best. Abe Lincoln ran through commanding generals like a thresher, changing them after every defeat and even after a less than complete victory like Gettysburg. Until change brought victory.

This is, and always has been, an ever-changing country that demands dynamism in its leaders, or at least the appearance of it. And both parties are catching on. Which is just the way a two-party system is supposed to work.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.