Since the Bush Administration can do nothing right in Iraq according to the Democratic presidential candidates, we really should revisit what they might do differently if in power.
Let's imagine what they might say if pressed.
Me: "Your latest harangue is that Bush didn't properly plan for the post war, and $87 billion to protect and rebuild Iraq is too much. What brand of crystal ball would you have employed to predict specific terrorist ambushes on our troops following the war, and what suggestions can you offer on cutting the budget there?"
The 9 little generals (T9LG): "We have no idea. We just know that if there's going to be any spending around here, we're going to be the ones to do it, for health care, education and the environment. Remember the Clinton chant?"
Me: "But we're already spending oodles on education."
T9LG: "We know, but if we don't say the word 'education,' the chant loses its rhythm and appeal, and those are necessary for votes … Can't stop thinking about yesterday, er, tomorrow."
Me: "Seriously, now, if you say we're spending too much, where would you recommend that we cut?"
T9LG: "Well, we wouldn't be there (Iraq) in the first place, which would make this discussion moot."
Me: "But most of you voted for the resolution or otherwise supported the invasion of Iraq."
T9LG: "Yes, but that was when public support for the war was overwhelming and we would have looked unpatriotic to resist. Since America won the war, despite our predictions of doom, we've had time to work on the American people and create just enough doubt that we can now safely oppose the war. So our latest line is that Bush deceived us."
Me: "Deceived you about what?"
T9LG: "The 16 words, weapons of mass destruction, the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda … health care, education, the environment."
Me: "But the 16 word non-deception (Britain still stands by its report) had little to do with our decision to invade. And surely you're not going to deny the manifest connection between Muslim terrorists and Saddam, are you? And about those weapons of mass destruction, are you saying they didn't exist and Bush and the entire intelligence community lied about them just because we haven't found them yet?"
T9LG: "We'll say whatever we have to say to make Bush look bad. This is an election cycle, you know."
Me: "OK, but aren't you happy we liberated the Iraqi people from this mass-murdering tyrant?"
T9LG: "Could we reserve comment until we see where the American people stand on that around October 2004?"
Me: "But you're still complaining about the $87 billion? If you won't tell us unequivocally that you wouldn't have invaded but for the imaginary deception, then you must tell us where you'd cut from that budget."
T9LG: "We don't know. But we do know that we wouldn't have to bear all of those expenses if you'd been nicer to the U.N. and France and Germany, and not ridden off on your unilateral high horse. Then these other nations you insulted would contribute."
Me: "So you are saying you wouldn't have invaded?"
T9LG: "Don't pin us down; it interferes with us having it both ways. But if we'd just sweet talked them a little longer, they would have come along."
Me: "Right. So are you saying we should withdraw the troops?"
T9LG: "No, of course not. Now that we're there we must try to protect our troops."
Me: "How about preserving our victory?"
T9LG: "We refuse to admit there was a victory."
T9LG: "We'll deny we ever said it."
Me: "How about securing stability for the burgeoning Iraqi democracy and rebuilding their infrastructure?"
T9LG: "There's certainly no stability. As for an Iraqi democracy, we only favor nation building when we're in power and the intervention has nothing to do with preserving America's security interests, such as in Haiti and Bosnia. As for the infrastructure, 'health care, education and the environment.'"
Me: "But you do agree we shouldn't leave now that we're there?"
Me: "Then what would you do differently?"
T9LG: "We might send more troops, depending on the polls."
Me: "Even though the experts -- the military commanders -- say it's not advisable?"
T9LG: "Well, politicians should run wars, not the military."
Me: "And you say you want to protect the troops, no matter what?"
T9LG: "Of course, stupid question."
Me: "Then why are you doing the one thing that could put them in jeopardy: badmouthing their efforts to the point that their morale and the American public's support for their effort are undermined?"
T9LG: "Because the economy's doing better, and we need something to talk about."
Me: "Thank you for your candor."