Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dems Lose by Punting on Iraq

The Democrats are desperately trying to avoid 'ownership' of Iraq, preferring it to stay firmly in the hands of President Bush. But it's hard to see how much they will gain politically by sitting on their hands. If Iraq is ever perceived as a success, it will be the President's success. If it goes wrong, they will eventually be blamed for doing nothing to either 'fix it' or end it.

Skeptical? Well, when New York sportswriters start attacking you for inaction, it might be a sign that you need to take action:

Talk proudly about Madden of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, who took a petition, signed by more than 1,000 just like him, to Congress yesterday, who just by walking up the steps of the Cannon House Office Building did more than big Democrats such as Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are doing these days.

Clinton would rather be photographed with soldiers than do anything for them. The other day on "Face the Nation," Obama looked like he wanted to hide under the desk when Bob Schieffer asked him if he backed Sen. Edward Kennedy's bill that would require congressional approval to fund the troop increases that this President has planned. Obama started talking about a "phased withdrawal" and sounded like somebody trying to explain cricket.

One of the reasons Kennedy (D-Mass.) can do what he does at this stage of his career is because he has nothing to lose. Clinton and Obama are different. They are the headliners of the party in power now, but all they do is talk and talk but say nothing meaningful about Iraq. It tells you everything about how much both of them want to be President, no matter what kind of mess they would inherit in Baghdad.

This isn't about ideals with them as much as ambition. Maybe they can explain to the people on the ground now how important it is for them to find a safe place in this debate.

"I'd tell you that the Democrats are talking a good game, but they're not even doing that," Madden says. "Everybody in Congress has to understand something: If they continue to fund this war, it's not just the President who owns it. They own it, too..."

It is as if Clinton and Obama in particular are terrified of being Swift-boated by the Republicans all over again, made out to be weaklings and cowards if they don't want to continue sending U.S. soldiers over to Iraq to die in a civil war the United Nations now says killed more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians in the last year alone. "This isn't us against the military," Madden says. "It's us against this policy..."

You need go back only a few months to find the last Congressional majority that got punished for inaction.

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