On the war, Democrats are fighting among themselves or, worse, running away from it altogether. Last week the party's most prominent politician, Hillary Clinton, rejected both the president's strategy of continuing with "his open-ended commitment" in Iraq and some Democrats' strategy of setting "a date certain" for withdrawal. She was booed by some in her liberal audience who chanted, "Bring the troops home now!" But her real sin was not that she failed to endorse that option, but that she failed to endorse any option.
Like Mr. Bush, she presented a false choice — either stay the course or cut and run — yet unlike Mr. Bush, she didn't even alight on one of them.
Mr. Rich, like all Democrats before him, and like all Democrats to come I'll wager, declines to define that third option. After all, if you don't articulate a position, what could there possibly be to criticize? And he's upset at Hillary? She at least recognizes that the fence she's trying to straddle has a sharp edge. And, like the Democrats, he caricatures administration Iraq policy without acknowledging the contingencies on which said policy is based. As if the hole he's digging for himself needed to be deeper:
Those who are most enraged about the administration's reckless misadventures are incredulous that it repeatedly gets away with the same stunts. Last week the president was still invoking 9/11 to justify the war in Iraq, which he again conflated with the war on Islamic jihadism — the war we are now losing, by the way, in Afghanistan and Somalia.
Defeatism is not a policy that America will embrace. Democrats, to their small credit, recognize this, which is why they get angry when they are made to go on record. Mr. Rich does not.
UPDATE: For more on this kind of defeatism, see the Wall Street Journal today.
As for Mr. Murtha's proposal that U.S. forces should redeploy to some nearby part of the Middle East, this is merely a disguise for what everyone would understand was a defeat in Iraq. Anyone who doubts it should merely listen to Mr. Murtha, who said again yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press that "We can't win a war like this." It's more accurate to say that our troops have a harder time winning a war with political leaders as inconstant as Mr. Murtha, who voted to commit U.S. troops but now lacks the will to finish the job.
That'll leave a mark.
cross posted at Joust The Facts