26 October 2005

Advancing withdrawal.

The Democratic party, for the first time in an eon, has the country's ear once again. A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll reveals that the electorate is having buyer's remorse across the board, for a variety of reasons, over having punched the ballot for a president whose incompetence, apparently, was only hinted at during his first term and is now in glorious bloom.

Whether Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist and company actually violated the letter of the law is immaterial; what counts is that a healthy majority of the American public recognizes these characters for the shifty, unscrupulous charlatans they are, and are perhaps nursing a quiet resentment about having been moralized and condescended to by the whole bunch of crooks.

So now the stakes of the 2006 elections are staggering for the Democrats. At this early stage, they have a legitimate shot at retaking either or both houses of Congress. Take a look at the CNN poll again. A plurality of respondents believe a Democrat would better manage the war in Iraq.

Think about what that means: The 46% who'd prefer that a liberal run our foreign policy must be aware of the increasing volume on the left in support of withdrawal. This number will only grow with each additional American war casualty, whether that's fair or not. Ideological debate aside, the vast majority of Americans do not have the patience for a prolonged occupation of a country, and any successful Democratic congressional campaign will (must) pivot on this fact.

Some have already begun beating this drum, some brazen enough to call the war what it is and always was: a distraction from the war on terrorism, a severe impediment to national security, a waste of money and lives, a poorly planned, embarrassingly executed and unnecessary adventure.

Paul Hackett, an Iraq veteran against the war who openly advocates withdrawal, recently announced his candidacy for Senate after receiving 48% of the vote for a congressional seat in an overwhelmingly Republican district in Ohio.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued a statement demanding that Patrick Fitzgerald widen his investigation into Rove and Scooter Libby to include the question of whether the Administration knowingly used faulty, obsolete and false evidence to sell the war.

That Democrats are vilified as "the Anti-War Left" will work to their advantage when the people's war jones has subsided and they're having trouble making ends meet. And it's starting to come together in the popular consciousness that administration projections that Americans might need to maintain military presence in Iraq for 10 years or more means there will be a draft. An all-volunteer army for a nation so bitterly divided over the justness of the cause could never occupy another state for that long.

The birth of our own great country was not choreographed by a supervisory power which reserved the right to decide when we were ready to manage our own affairs. No one held our hand; we Americans guided ourselves to liberty and self-determination, recognizing that certain detours and setbacks were to be expected. If we're waiting for conditions in Iraq to take a sudden turn toward the democratic ideal, we'll be there forever.

America has accomplished its stated goals for Iraq, however backward its methods. We unseated a despot, installed a basic governmental infrastructure, passed a Constitution by plebiscite -- and now it's time for us to go. If the minds and wills of the Iraqi people are determined, and oriented toward freedom, they will provide for their own security, but if not, an American occupation will never change that fact. If Republicans refuse to acknowledge this, it'll be their loss next November.


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