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October 22, 2007

Michael Barone: 2007 Isn't 2006

As Al Qaeda's fortunes turn sour in Iraq, so do the Democrats' fortunes in America.

Mainstream-media types tend to think that, while rising casualties from Iraq are legitimate news, falling casualties are not. But even so the word got out: The surge strategy was producing results. Anbar province, given up for lost in 2006, turned peaceful and cooperative in 2007. U.S. casualties and Iraqi civilian casualties were down. Brookings scholars Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, no fans of the administration’s conduct of the war, announced on July 30 (in the pages of the New York Times, no less) that this was “a war we might just win.”

The congressional Democrats got ready for one more push in September. But the testimony of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker cut the ground from under their feet. Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who declared last spring that the war was lost) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem to have thrown in the towel. The Democratic Congress will not use its power to appropriate to end the surge or to bring the soldiers home.

That leaves the left wing of the party angry at its leaders and the party split on the war, much as it was in 2002, when about half of congressional Democrats voted to authorize military action.

The Democrats here suffered from a lack of imagination. They could not imagine that the United States military could perform more effectively in 2007 than it did in 2005 and 2006.

...

Democrats are coming face to face with the fact that there’s a war on — and that Americans prefer success to failure. If the choice is between stalemate and withdrawal, as it seemed to be in November 2006, they may favor withdrawal; but if the choice is between victory and withdrawal, they don’t want to quit — or to undermine the effort.

Last week, Democrat Niki Tsongas won a special election with only 51 percent of the vote, in a Massachusetts district where John Kerry won 57 percent in 2004 and would have run much better in 2006. History doesn’t stand still — we’re not in 2006 anymore.

Thanks to Ogre Gunner.


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posted by Ace at 02:46 PM

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