The Democrats don’t offer stirring rhetoric about the need for victory and for stalwartness in the face of setbacks, but instead a dreary recitation of mistakes in the war leavened with little hope or positive policy proposals. They don’t talk of the need of maintaining our national will or the need for patience in waging a difficult and irregular war, but emphasize our casualties and the fact that the Iraq War has already dragged on longer than World War II.Therein lies at least one of their problems. Just like a consumer kicking the tires on a couple of used cars, American voters this fall will enter the booths looking at candidates from, for the most part, two parties. One represents the current establishment, a party whose President has responded to horrific terrorist attacks on American soil by going after, in one way or another, what he and his advisors perceive as the root problems - state sponsors of terrorism and terrorist activities. The other party insists that this President is wrong, that he's gotten us involved in a war of choice in Iraq (at least) and that his handling of this war has been flawed. This other party insists that changes must be made. Some have suggested withdrawing troops now, soon, or at some indeterminate time. Some have suggested focusing only on one man. Few have suggested persisting in our efforts in Iraq. This guy did, and lost his primary.
Now, it’s not that the Bush administration hasn’t made mistakes, or that optimists (including myself at times) haven’t often been wrong, or that we don’t face the possibility of losing. It is perfectly reasonable as a matter of principle for those Democrats who originally opposed the war to want, as they see it, to cut our losses. And it would be scurrilous to accuse Democrats of hoping for defeat. But Democrats demonstrate no appetite for doing anything serious to help resist that calamitous eventuality.
Here's the problem. You're a voter being encouraged to vote for "change." But if you go with "change," exactly what changes are you voting for? Are you voting for withdrawal? Are you voting to stay the course but change tactics? Are you voting for withdrawal from Iraq but engagement with Iran? Just what the heck are you choosing when you pull the lever for the candidate with the 'D' next to his or her name?
I have yet to hear or see a critic of President Bush's policies in the war on terrorists advocate specific alternatives, particulary those that could clearly be successful. Oh, wait, there was one specific proposal. Rep. Jack Murtha wanted to pull the troops out and move them to Okinawa. People smarter than me are still trying to figure out how that would help win in Iraq, or elsewhere for that matter.
So what will those who want "change" be buying this November? I'll be damned if I know. This used car (D)ealer won't let you take the car for a test drive, and won't let your mechanic look it over. This (D)ealer won't even let you start the engine. Buy blind? I think not. Mr. Lowry concludes:
There is one obvious way for the Democrats to bury charges of defeatism. It would be for the bulk of the party to swing around to an affirmative strategy for victory and for the party’s leaders to support it energetically. That, of course, will never happen.