This week, Democrats broke out the cots and the S'mores, and held a big ol' Senate sleepover for surrender. By pushing an all-night Senate session purportedly designed to debate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, Democrats hoped to show their sincerity and moral indignation. "How many sleepless nights have our soldiers and their families had?" asked oily Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, who only two years ago compared U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."
If politics is the art of painting a sincere face on blatant political manipulation, today's Democrats are masters of the craft. Democrats have hedged their bets on the Iraq war since its inception. They have voted for it before voting against it, funded it before denying funding, supported it before undermining it.
Democrats defend their war policy as a sort of principled waffling: Once we found out the truth about Iraq, we reversed field. Despite their political vacillations, Democrats maintain that they have been consistent on the major underlying issues in Iraq: first, the need for more international input; second, the protection of human rights.
Until now, Democrats have steadfastly and incessantly hooted for more international involvement. Though Senate Democrats voted 29-21 in favor of the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq (Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry and Harry Reid all voted for the resolution), they called for more international input throughout the process.
That focus on international involvement has not abated of late. Clinton excoriated Bush on July 10, 2007, for his "unilateral decision to rush to a preemptive war." Just three weeks after his vote in favor of the authorization of military force, Edwards slammed Bush's "gratuitous unilateralism, a determination to act alone for the sake of acting alone." Kerry routinely blasted Bush's "unilateral preemption" on the 2004 presidential campaign trail. According to CNN, Reid "painted the president's war policy as unilateral" in April.
Yes, the Democrats have been absolutely consistent with regard to international involvement.
Until now. As Democrats plan to force an American withdrawal from Iraq, the international community begs America not to cut and run. On July 16, the day before the Senate slumber party, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pled with Americans to use "great caution" in contemplating a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq. "It is not my place to inject myself into this discussion taking place between the American people, government and Congress," Ban stated. "But I'd like to tell you that a great caution should be taken for the sake of the Iraqi people. Any abrupt withdrawal or decision may lead to a further deterioration."
It seems that Democrats are not quite so principled after all. International opinion matters when it is politically convenient; it is to be ignored when there is political hay to be made.
But surely the Democrats will never abandon the second prong of principle, support for human rights?
Sadly, Democrats care about human rights only if they can undermine President Bush by invoking human rights. The minute human rights come into conflict with Democratic political maneuvering they are jettisoned. The New York Times, which operates as a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, recently issued a fascinating editorial confirming the withdrawal movement's dismissal of human rights. "Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave," The Times announced.
"There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide," The Times continued. "Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate." Breathtakingly, The Times then dismissed such human rights nightmares and called for immediate withdrawal. Human rights, it seems, are important only when Democrats wield them as a weapon against President Bush.
When all of their pretensions to higher values are stripped away -- values like international involvement and human rights -- Democratic war opposition becomes nothing more than anti-Bush knee-jerk opposition. Democratic principle is in conflict with Democratic policy -- and, unsurprisingly, Democrats ignore their own principles. For Democrats, it seems, the only principle that matters is perpetuation of political power.