The Democrats' latest ploy of shifting the goal posts to dampen Gen. Petraeus's anticipated report of military successes in Iraq by emphasizing the slow progress on the political side makes it increasingly hard to deny they are working for defeat at all costs.
From Sens. Carl Levin, to Dick Durbin to Hillary Clinton, Democrats who have been on the front lines forecasting our military defeat in Iraq are now scrambling to repackage their message -- retrospectively.
Upon returning from Iraq, Levin grudgingly conceded the surge was working, but quickly diluted his positive assessment with negative assurances to his party's antiwar base that political progress was lagging. Hillary Clinton agrees we're making headway militarily, but not soon enough, and certainly not politically, so we must begin to withdraw -- now.
But Democrats haven't been rooting for political success in Iraq either. Remember their underwhelming reaction to the landmark January 2005 elections, when millions of Iraqis risked their lives to vote? Democrats refused to be pleased, complaining that too few Sunnis participated.
There's also the question of what Democrats mean by political progress. Some of these self-styled "democrats," like Clinton, who criticize the U.S. for imposing its will, are demanding that Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki be removed from office. So much for the "progressives'" view of Iraqi sovereignty.
But all of this is just smoke and mirrors. While Democrats are actually against the war, their primary opposition is now mostly partisan politics. The prospect of a successful mission is truly unthinkable, because it would spell their demise for years to come. House Majority Whip James Clyburn has admitted as much.
Politics is also mostly why they're up in arms over President Bush's invocation of Vietnam in his VFW speech, even though they have been using the Vietnam/Iraq comparison from the get-go.
Bush said, "Then, as now, people argued that the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end," which he argued was a "costly impression." "One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' re-education camps,' and 'killing fields.'"
Sen. Reid spit back, "President Bush's attempt to compare the war in Iraq to past military conflicts in East Asia ignores the fundamental difference between the two. Our nation was misled by the Bush administration in an effort to gain support for the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, leading to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our history."
Reid must like the way those phrases roll off his forked tongue because he says them repeatedly, whether or not they have anything to do with the topic under discussion.
Forget the falsity of Reid's accusations. What possible relevance could they have to whether we should complete our mission in Iraq, unless Reid is arguing our cause is unjust (which it manifestly is not)?
It's one thing to have argued against the invasion on military grounds, as in, "it could lead to a quagmire." Indeed, Reid earlier declared the war unwinnable. But that's obviously not what Reid is saying here because it wouldn't help his case: He knows Petraeus will soon report we are emerging from a military quagmire. Reid's statement only makes sense if he's arguing our cause is unjust, and he must be called on this in the strongest terms.
Besides, Reid and other Democrats have no standing to complain about Bush's Vietnam analogy, since they were the first to raise it -- albeit for other (and erroneous) reasons.
But President Bush is correct. Antiwar advocates of the Vietnam era said we fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident to get into war. Whether they're correct about that or not, the liberals' moral case against our intervention in Vietnam didn't stop there.
They said Vietnam was a civil war, as opposed to one being stoked by foreign communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Red China. They said we were the aggressors. They said the South Vietnamese people just wanted to be left alone in peace, not caring about the form of government. And they arrogantly and callously dismissed predictions that a bloodbath would ensue should we withdraw.
To this day, Sen. Kerry, consistent with his habit of demonizing the good guys and apologizing for the evil ones, actually says a bloodbath did not occur and that the communist "re-education" camps were beneficial to those indoctrinated.
The more the Democratic leaders try to sabotage our mission in Iraq, the more they will ingratiate themselves to their rabid antiwar base, but the harder it will be for them to avoid their own quagmire in November 2008, when national security issues will be front and center.