Sunday, November 25, 2007

Democrats in Bind Over Iraq Progress

The Democratic presidential candidates are shifting their tone in discussing the war in Iraq, as the New York Times reports:

As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq: acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy.

Advisers to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say that the candidates have watched security conditions improve after the troop escalation in Iraq and concluded that it would be folly not to acknowledge those gains. At the same time, they are arguing that American casualties are still too high, that a quick withdrawal is the only way to end the war and that the so-called surge in additional troops has not paid off in political progress in Iraq.

But the changing situation suggests for the first time that the politics of the war could shift in the general election next year, particularly if the gains continue. While the Democratic candidates are continuing to assail the war — a popular position with many of the party’s primary voters — they run the risk that Republicans will use those critiques to attack the party’s nominee in the election as defeatist and lacking faith in the American military.

If security continues to improve, President Bush could become less of a drag on his party, too, and Republicans may have an easier time zeroing in on other issues, such as how the Democrats have proposed raising taxes in difficult economic times.
My God! There you have it! The mainstream media is getting it, finally!

This is exactly what I've been saying: While 2008 is certainly shaping up to be the greatest opportunity for the Democrats in decades, continued success in Iraq will work to the advantage of the Republican Party.

President Bush's poll numbers are improving (click here for
a chart tracking President Bush's job approval ratings over the course of his presidency). Further, opinion on the war is inching up. Surveys show, in general, Americans believe victory is still possible, and majorities expect to see a large number of troops in Iraq for at least the next couple of years (see the CBS News Poll. Oct. 12-16, 2007, at Polling Report).

So, while now we see the Democrats suspending their "suspension of disbelief" that the surge is working, some continue to hammer "the failure of political reconciliation" in Iraq. As the Times piece points out, none of the Democratic candidates has stopped calling for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

The debate is changing, but war opponents remain in a pre-surge mindset.