Democrats tried to counter Petraeus with cherry-picked evidence, including a Government Accountability Office report saying that it is too hard to measure the trends in violence to make a judgment about them. This bit of epistemological dodginess is being spun by Democrats into an affirmation that the surge didn't reduce violence. But the trend is unmistakable. Michael Gordon reported in The New York Times that both American and Iraqi numbers "note a roughly 50 percent drop in the number of civilians who have been killed since the end of 2006."
Democrats also point to a commission report on the Iraqi Security Forces prepared under the direction of retired Gen. Jim Jones. It says that Iraqi forces won't be able to operate independently in the next 12-18 months. This is true, and unsurprising. The Iraqi military was designed as a light infantry capable of quickly getting into the fight and dependent on our logistics. The report nonetheless expects "substantial progress" in Iraqi forces in the next 12-18 months.
In the context of Iraq, Democrats are practically allergic to the word "al-Qaida." The terror group has almost been rousted from Anbar province -- once the epicenter of the Sunni insurgency -- but Democrats love only to note that Anbar has 5 percent of Iraq's population. Do they care that at times Anbar accounted for one-third of American casualties?
The Democrats' posture toward Petraeus said implicitly, "Don't distract us with your encouraging news and your measured policy recommendations." On Iraq, they want to hear of defeat and withdrawal. An accomplished military professional who brings a message of success and patience is to be, at best, dismissed and, at worst, smeared.