Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle often sounded uncertain about the war in Iraq, but not about North Korea -- the United States had to absolutely, unconditionally, give in to North Korean demands for bilateral talks about the communist nation's nuclear program.
"I clearly believe," Daschle said in January, "that the only way now for us to successfully deal with the North Koreans is to enter into direct talks, to make sure that we have people sitting across the table to address the concerns specifically enunciated by this administration -- and they can't do it too soon."
He wasn't alone. Sen. Ted Kennedy agreed, telling the "Today" show in March: "I think Colin Powell should have direct conversations with the North Koreans. That is what is being urged by South Korea, Japan and our allies in the area. This is a recommendation not just of Democrats."
In fact, nearly every Democrat on the planet said the same thing -- Bill Richardson, Madeleine Albright, Joe Biden, Howard Dean and, one presumes, even Democratic county commissioners and dogcatchers. The problem with this seemingly eminently reasonable demand on President Bush is that North Korea is no longer making it. So, on this question at least, the entirety of the Democratic Party is to the left of Kim Jong Il.
On Saturday, the North Koreans dropped their insistence that the United States enter into direct talks, saying it "will not stick to any particular dialogue format."
The shift is no coincidence so soon after the United States smashed the regime of Saddam Hussein. As South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun noted, North Korea is terrified that it will be next. The North Korean media, which usually obsessively reports Kim Jong Il's "brilliant revolutionary feats," hasn't reported his whereabouts in weeks, presumably because he has been anxiously viewing news reports from Iraq.
If the new tone from North Korea has a rational explanation, how then to understand the Democrats? After so many of them were dead wrong about the invasion of Iraq -- about its difficulty and how U.S. troops would be welcomed -- it is, uh, notable that they would be so wrong, so quickly, about an entirely different foreign-policy question. Just bad luck?
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