The Democrats are in the throes of a full-fledged Vietnam flashback. Even if the Bush "surge" works, Democrats will stay committed to ending the war — just as Democrats cut off the war in Vietnam in the mid-1970s, even as it had been put on a more sustainable footing. The party has regressed all the way to its McGovernite roots. The centrist Clintonite interlude of the 1990s is almost entirely washed away, with the Clintonite candidate — Hillary — trying not to get washed away with it.
This McGovernite tendency is pacificist and isolationist. Even as Democrats give way to it, they still style themselves idealistic internationalists. Calls to end the genocide in Darfur were applauded here, although no one said how it was going to be done, nor why ending the savagery in the Sudan is such a priority when it is fine to abandon Iraq to its near-genocidal furies.
The Vietnam Syndrome made Democrats allergic to the use of force for two decades. The Iraq Syndrome will be a reprise. Anyone who, like Rahm Emanuel, wants to see the Democrats occupy the sensible center must be dismayed. Howard Dean, however, can only be pleased. He's chairman of this party for a reason.