As news of Uday and Qusay Hussein's most welcome demise was breaking across the globe, Iraqis lit the skies with celebratory fire, financial markets surged, oil prices dipped, and men and women of goodwill exulted in the apparent success, soon confirmed, of American forces who had rid the world of the monstrous brothers long instrumental in maintaining Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a rogue police state of domestic torture and international menace.
But what did the Democrats do?
There was presidential hopeful Richard Gephardt, giving a gee-whiz-bang foreign policy speech in San Francisco ("the incubator of internationalism," as he put it) about "looming quagmires," John Wayne and "hoisting cold ones."
Before anyone could unravel his brain-knotting rationale for both supporting the war based on Iraqi failures to comply with United Nations disarmament orders, and doubting the war based on the inclusion of British uranium intelligence in the president's State of the Union address -- boom (or, rather, boom, boom), Uday and Qusay Hussein were dead, and Saddam Hussein's dynasty was ended.
"A very, very important move forward," said Britain's Tony Blair. "A great day for the Iraqi people and a great day for the American military," said chief civil administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer. "A more important step in the liberation of Iraq than the fall of Baghdad," wrote military affairs expert Ralph Peters.
But how churlish Sen. Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia Democrat, sounded when asked about initial reports of Uday and Qusay's demise. "It's a possibility," he conceded (barely), "but we've heard that before." Seems he didn't want to talk about the successful operation against the Hussein brothers this week, when he still had plenty to say about British claims about Iraq's unsuccessful attempts to buy uranium last year.
Once the deaths were confirmed, Rockefeller changed gears from doubting the news to denigrating the accomplishment. His message? Nothing but the death of Saddam Hussein was even worth mentioning. "Until we see him dead, know that he's dead -- more importantly, until the Iraqi people know that he's dead," Rockefeller explained, "he is still the looming presence." Never mind that without his sons, Saddam Hussein's presence at least looms a little less. By comparison, Sen. Ted Kennedy sounded almost upbeat -- "It's progress, but I still think we need an overall strategy" -- but it was just more sour Senate Democrat grapes.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle took a different tack -- or, rather, two different tacks. He released an upbeat written reaction, while also making the following statement: "No one can underestimate the value of the developments today," said Mr. Daschle, preparing to do exactly that. "But I would simply say ... we need more help. We need more resources, we need more personnel, we need more international involvement. This doesn't change that."
Gee. Sounds as if it's too darn bad our guys even got out of bed Tuesday morning -- a sentiment with which Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, would probably agree. Owning up to being at least somewhat "glad" about the week's good news, he concluded, "We can expect, unfortunately, more bad news." Which isn't exactly the same as saying, All we have to fear is fear itself.
Presidential hopeful Howard Dean reflexively denied the deaths were a victory for the administration, saying, "I think, in general, the ends do not justify the means." This probably places him somewhere near the camp of Rep. Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, who reacted to the news of the elimination of the Hussein brothers by questioning the legality of the operation.
"We have a law on the books that the United States should not be assassinating anybody," Mr. Rangel said to Fox News' Sean Hannity, adding: "I personally don't get any satisfaction that it takes 200,000 troops, 250,000 troops, to knock off two bums."
Such carping and negativism over the firefight deaths of two tyrants -- an indisputable psychological and strategic gain for our troops and long-term stability in Iraq -- are inspired by more than policy differences between Democrats and Republicans. The attitude among leading Democrats toward Uday and Qusay Hussein's deaths this week reminds me of the thesis of Ann Coulter's latest book, Treason: "Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy," she writes.
At the very least, these liberals have shown that they don't always cheer when the good guys get a win.