Katrina, Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, and Harriet Miers sent the national Democrats into paroxysms of joy. George Bush and the Republicans were history, as good as gone, dead meat.
Cindy Sheehan and Congressman John Murtha et al. piled on - citing the 2,000 mark of Americans killed in Iraq and launching a bring-the-boys-(and-girls)-home campaign reminiscent of nothing quite so much as the Communist-front enterprises of the 1950s and '60s. Bush's numbers plunged, and with it his own credibility and his administration's ability to accomplish anything during the next three years. And let us not fail to mention the dissolving Republican prospects at the polls.
Then came Veterans Day. Bush launched a rhetorical offensive to take back ownership of the Iraq question. Nearly half-a-dozen speeches laid out the issue - defending both the decision to go in and the determination not to fold 'em and get out before the dealing's done. The third successful Iraqi election in a year helped - big-time. Bush's numbers have turned. Happy days soon may be here again.
The ever-lovin' Democrats helped, too - as they have become so practiced at doing. They were determined to exploit Iraq finally to bring him down. But their incoherent performance regarding Iraq, so driven by their insatiable hatred of a good and decent man, is serving to bring him back.
The Democrats have fractured into essentially three camps on Iraq.
The Dean-Pelosi-Reid-Kennedy-Murtha-Kerry-Gore camp believes it's time - well past time - for the U.S. to confess to everything the terrorists require, declare defeat and vacate the premises in wide-eyed caterwauling.
The Rahm Emanuel/Steny Hoyer camp - Camp No. 2 - stands several steps toward the center from the fever-swampish Camp No. 1. Emanuel is a former senior White House aide to Bill Clinton. These days, he is the House Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman - and as such worries a lot about fund-raising and electing Democrats to the House next year.
Hoyer, the House Democratic Whip, shares with Emanuel the view that the group featuring his boss Nancy Pelosi and others could prove calamitous to the party: "I believe that a precipitous withdrawal of American forces in Iraq could lead to disaster, spawning a civil war, fostering a haven for terrorists and damaging our nation's security and credibility." This camp houses the currently stealthy Hillary Clinton, about whom more below.
Camp No. 3, close to the true middle of the nation's ideological spectrum, boasts but one prominent Democrat - Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. (He has grown oh so much since his years of leftist intellectual extremism in the class behind me on our shared collegiate newspaper.)
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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