Listening to the Democrats denying our progress in Iraq is reminiscent of a high school debate where one team gets stuck with the wrong side of the issue and has to defend it valiantly anyway. But in real life, especially when life-and-death consequences are involved, such artificial, unreasonable positions are not valiant but disgraceful.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson whether his plan to withdraw all troops from Iraq was outdated now that the surge "shows signs of working." Wallace noted that U.S. casualties for October were the lowest since March 2006 and civilian casualties, murders and roadside bomb attacks have all fallen dramatically.
Straight-faced, Richardson replied, "First of all, I don't believe the surge is working. … You don't measure progress by body counts."
Oh? You sure could have fooled Richardson's fellow Democrats who used that yardstick with a vengeance prior to the surge.
But that was before the facts became inconvenient. Since the surge has been working, many Democrats have shifted the goal posts to say we may only measure our progress by political successes.
Political progress was not what Sen. Harry Reid had in mind when he declared the Iraq War lost. It's not what other Democrats were stressing when ceaselessly bludgeoning us with news of daily body counts. That was so yesterday. Richardson, along with other Democrats, now says, "There is no progress in political compromise. The Maliki government has failed to make that happen in dividing up all revenues. Three out of 18 benchmarks by the General Accounting Office have shown that it is a failure."
So if the new struggling government hasn't achieved final legislative compromises on issues that would be exceedingly difficult for an established government, let alone an infant one, our mission in Iraq is a failure? Using that criterion, we must declare the American Revolution and our experiment in constitutional republicanism failures as well since the modern Democratic Party won't even compromise to get behind a war we're currently winning.
It apparently never occurs to these enlightened liberals that in certain situations, the successful use of force is a condition precedent to political compromise -- a principle on full display with Iraqi tribal leaders finally turning on al-Qaeda.
But what is Richardson's proposed political solution? Simple. We should "use the leverage of our withdrawal responsibly over a 12-month period but push the United States diplomacy" toward a power sharing compromise among "the three groups in Iraq."
"Leverage of our withdrawal"? I'm sure our threats to withdraw will scare al-Qaeda and insurgent groups into scampering to the peace table.
But why pick on Richardson? He's just one of an overwhelming majority of Democrats taking this position. Antiwar liberal darling Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos website recently expressed similar denial of the surge's success. He said on Bill Maher's show that while the numbers may look better now in Iraq, it will only be a matter of time before things go to hell again. These people will go to any lengths to avoid admitting a Bush policy is working, though their protests are much less credible than a high school debater's.
That said, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was doubtlessly a better debater than Bill Richardson. Pelosi gleefully rushed to the podium last week to lament that no matter what the currently monthly casual statistics show, 2007 is the deadliest year in Iraq yet for American troops. You must admit that Pelosi exhibits impressive resourcefulness in spinning numbers to deny the very encouraging trends across the board in Iraq and to justify her inalterable predisposition against the war.
Democrats are stuck in a time warp and are irreversibly wedded to defeat in Iraq -- there's simply no more tactful way of saying it.
Former Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees. He said that since retaking Congress in November 2006, "the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party … has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically elected government there and to hand a defeat to President Bush. … Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving."
The Democrats unifying motto should be, to paraphrase the late John Lennon, "All we are saying, is give defeat a chance."