The Democrats and the Old Media are getting as much mileage as they can out of President Bush's reportedly low approval ratings. But the smart money says they ought to be more concerned about their own problems.
While they preoccupy themselves with trashing President Bush and obstructing his agenda, he remains undeterred and presses forward. While they brag at their success in blocking Social Security and other reforms, he amasses legislative victories, including CAFTA, bankruptcy and class-action.
While they anxiously pant in anticipation of his inevitable irrelevance, they further secure their own irrelevance. Indeed, while they prepare to gloat over his "imminent" lame-duck status when he will have little political capital left to spend, he is busy spending his political capital as if it springs from an unlimited reservoir.
Consider his congressional arm-twisting on CAFTA, his persistence on Social Security reform despite the obvious short-term political downsides, his recess appointment of John Bolton and his unflinching commitment to the burgeoning Iraqi republic.
Ah, yes, Iraq. This is where it gets interesting. The Dems think it's the Republican's Achilles' heel, but it may well be theirs. For the Democratic Party and the press, all roads lead to Iraq. To them, President Bush's "duplicitous" scheme to drag us into war there subsumes every other issue.
So complete is their obsession they apparently don't see the need to develop an agenda of their own. They have no plan on Social Security, which they labeled a crisis as recently as Bill Clinton's presidency. They have no coherent tax policy -- other than to oppose Bush's plan. They don't even have a clue about Iraq -- whether we should stay or leave and how we should accomplish either non-goal.
When discussing Iraq, they talk nostalgically about Vietnam, the Mother of all Quagmires, fervently hoping Iraq will end up being just as bad and the vast quicksand that finally drowns the Bush presidency and GOP dominance.
But again, the profound irony is that while they see Iraq as Bush's quagmire, it has become their own. Just as their self-made myths about Republicans stealing the election in 2000 drove them to a Norman Bates-esque frenzy, their delusional "Bush-lied" ravings have driven them to a blinding monomania.
If you doubt their collective neurosis, do a Nexis search and you'll discover their ingenuity at tying every issue -- John Bolton, Social Security, Wilson/Plame, Judge Roberts -- to Iraq. To them, almost everything the administration does is either to compensate for or divert attention from Iraq.
Columnist Arianna Huffington seems upset that even some of her fellow libs are not in sufficient lockstep on the antiwar message. In a column she takes to task jailed New York Times reporter Judy Miller for virtually conspiring with the Bush administration to exaggerate the case for Iraqi WMD in order to support his decision to attack Iraq.
According to Huffington, the real scandal behind Wilson/Plame is not even Karl Rove. No, it's the reprobates who sent us to war against Iraq. She quotes approvingly from flaming lib NYT columnist Frank Rich. "The real culprit," writes Rich, "is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped up grounds … That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war."
Amy Goodman, host of "Democracy Now," is even more hysterical. On MSNBC's "Hardball," she said Sen. Frist's decision to buck President Bush on embryonic stem cells was all about Iraq, which understandably left guest John Fund rolling his eyes in disbelief.
Goodman said, "I really do think this is much more connected to Iraq than Sen. Frist having a change of heart … Because, I think, right now the Republicans are trying to separate themselves at this point of this lame-duck presidency from the Bush administration's views on Iraq."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune and others have opposed John Bolton's U.N. ambassadorship not just because he was a meanie, but because he "sought to intimidate intelligence analysts who objected to conclusions about Iraq's WMD." Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid obviously agrees, saying in a floor statement, "you can see why we believe it is no small matter for us to learn whether Mr. Bolton was a party to other efforts to hype intelligence."
The Palm Beach Post asks, "Is [the president's] concentration on Social Security meant to divert attention from real crises in this country, such as … the mess in Iraq?"
The examples are endless, but suffice it to say that if Democrats don't wean themselves off their Iraq-only diet soon, even Hillary won't be able to pull their chestnuts out of the fire by 2008.