In Search of Relevance

June 12, 2006

Sen. John Kerry’s brand-new legislation to withdraw our troops from Iraq is the latest example of Democrats undermining our war effort and trying to make themselves relevant.

Kerry said his legislation would pull the majority of U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2006, contingent upon establishing a schedule with the Iraqi government. “This will legitimize the new Iraqi government, enable the Iraqis to become more self-reliant, and undermine support for the insurgency.”

Try to forget, if you can, Kerry’s ridiculous statement that a bill telegraphing U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would “undermine support for the insurgency,” when it would do precisely the opposite.

Every time there is good news coming out of Iraq, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death, Democrats can’t allow the news cycle to pass without trying to put a damper on it. It’s as if they’re saying, “Hey, look at us. We matter, too. We also have ideas on Iraq. Pay no attention to the good news. The news is all bad all the time. Remember: Bush is a liar.”

What was the Democrats’ response to the January 2005 Iraqi elections establishing a transition government and the phenomenal voter turnout? They joined the administration in celebrating the historic event, right? Wrong. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., convened her ad hoc group of some 20 Democratic congressmen (the “Iraqi working group”) to formulate the party’s response to the elections. I kid you not. They believed they needed to prepare a response to the Iraqi triumph, as if Iraqi’s good news was their bad news. Of course, from their perspective, it probably was, because it was also good news for President Bush.

Just a fluke, you say? Well, then how do you suppose they responded after the December 2005 elections to establish a permanent government for Iraq? Pelosi briefly congratulated Iraq’s progress toward democracy, then issued a statement berating President Bush for diverting our resources from capturing Osama to Iraq — a staggering non sequitur. It was like saying, “Our success in helping to bring constitutional self-rule to Iraq as a result of President Bush’s visionary decision to attack Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein is proof that we made the wrong decision in attacking Iraq.”

But it gets worse. Pelosi added, “There are ways for the United States to make Iraq more stable that do not require 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and which would make the American people safer and the Middle East more secure.” Remember now, that was her response to the Iraqi election. Why did she feel it necessary to gratuitously criticize Bush’s policy in the wake of that event, other than to downplay the fruits of Bush’s policy decisions, and at the same time make sure Democrats were included in Iraq-related news?

The Democrats’ behavior is indeed part of an unmistakable pattern. John Kerry’s latest legislative proposal is not the only recent example. On “Fox News Sunday” Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, D-Calif., said that we are not succeeding militarily in Iraq, that our objectives “can best be achieved politically, not militarily,” and that we ought to “redeploy our troops … start moving them out of Iraq, putting some in Kuwait and Jordan,” and more in Baghdad.

When Newt Gingrich wisely admonished Harman that on specific decisions as to troop deployment “we ought to rely on General Abizaid and General Casey,” because they deal with these issues, on the ground, every day, Harman disagreed, sort of.

She said she admired Abizaid and Casey, but the president and his advisers ought to make the decision and it ought to focus on a political strategy. But, then she said we ought to have a “redeployment strategy led by the generals,” not Congress making armchair decisions on the withdrawal or redeployment schedule. Another glaring non sequitur.

In the brief span of a few minutes Harman said: a) we ought to redeploy our troops now irrespective of what the generals recommend, b) the president ought to make these decisions, and c) the generals should make the decisions. In other words, she would simultaneously follow the generals’ advice and ignore it.

Harman is not a stupid woman, but she is advocating flagrantly inconsistent positions. The only explanation is that along with the rest of her party’s leadership she is seeking to establish Democratic Party relevance on Iraq, while discrediting President Bush. And that’s giving her the benefit of the doubt.