Thursday, March 20, 2008

Democrats Still Weak on Security

Karl Rove, over at the Wall Street Journal, argues that the Democratic Party remains woefully weak on national security:

One out of five is not a majority. Democrats should keep that simple fact of political life in mind as they pursue the White House.

For a party whose presidential candidates pledge they'll remove U.S. troops from Iraq immediately upon taking office - without regard to conditions on the ground or the consequences to America's security - a late February Gallup Poll was bad news. The Obama/Clinton vow to pull out of Iraq immediately appears to be the position of less than one-fifth of the voters.

Only 18% of those surveyed by Gallup agreed U.S. troops should be withdrawn "on a timetable as soon as possible." And only 20% felt the surge was making things worse in Iraq. Twice as many respondents felt the surge was making conditions better.

It gets worse for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Nearly two out of every three Americans surveyed (65%) believe "the United States has an obligation to establish a reasonable level of stability and security in Iraq before withdrawing all of its troops." The reason is self-interest. Almost the same number of Americans (63%) believe al Qaeda "would be more likely to use Iraq as a base for its terrorist operations" if the U.S. withdraws.

Just a year ago it was almost universally accepted that Iraq would wreck the GOP chances in November. Now the issue may pose a threat to the Democratic efforts to gain power. For while the American people are acknowledging the positive impact of the surge, Democratic leaders are not.

In September, Mrs. Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus "the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief." This week, she said "we'll be right back at square one" in Iraq by this summer.

In December, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to admit progress, arguing, "The surge hasn't accomplished its goals." He said a month earlier there was "no progress being made in Iraq" and "it is not getting better, it is getting worse."

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Feb. 9 if she was worried that the gains of the last year might be lost, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot back: "There haven't been gains . . . This is a failure." Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told the Associated Press the same month that the surge "has failed."

This passionate, persistent unwillingness to admit what more and more Americans are coming to believe is true about Iraq's changing situation puts Democrats in dangerous political territory. For one thing, they increasingly appear out of touch with reality, a charge they made with some success at the administration's expense before the surge began changing conditions in Iraq.
Well, I never thought I'd be ahead of the curve with Karl Rove, but baby, you're singing my song!

See for example:

* "Glenn Greenwald is Wrong About Iraq Public Opinion."

* "
Large Majority Opposes Immediate Iraq Withdrawal."

* "
The Lessons of Iraq."
As Rove notes, the "Democrats appear to have an ideological investment in things going badly in Iraq."

You can say that again: "
Unwavering Commitment: Democrats Dug In on Iraq Retreat."