Victor Davis Hanson takes a look at recent developments in Iraq and notices the sudden shift in public opinion – and in the politicians who have been opposing it. It's Alice through the looking glass time.
Unfortunately, many Democrats saw the change-of-heart in the electorate as a blanket endorsement of their own alternate universe. But it wasn’t necessarily so. The voters were not necessarily interested in new ties with terrorist Syria, restoring diplomacy with Iran, gay marriage, abortion, minority-identity politics, new spending programs, open borders, closing down Guantanamo, an end to wiretaps of suspected terrorists, or the repeal of the Patriot Act.
The people were mad at the war not because they felt it was amoral or unsound policy, or because they hated George Bush, or because they wished liberals instead to end it in defeat — but simply because they felt frustrated that we either were not winning, or not winning at a cost in blood and treasure that was worth the effort.
That Pattonesque national mood (“America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser”) is not quite entirely gone, and was entirely misunderstood by most Democrats. Somehow instead they saw their new popularity as connected to the appeal of their politics rather than their shared anger at the mismanagement of the war.
So in their exultation, they welcomed in extremists and fringe groups — as if the worldview of a Michael Moore, Moveon.org, or Daily Kos might further resonate with the American people. The result was a Harry Reid now declaring the war lost and Gen. Petraeus disingenuous; a Hillary Clinton all but suggesting Gen. Petraeus — soon to be the most popular American general since Dwight D. Eisenhower — was untruthful (“suspension of belief”); and Moveon.org ads alleging that Petraeus was a near traitor.
Despite the self-destructive nature of such extremism, the frenzy at least kept up fixation on the war — and not on the Democrats’ own political agenda. After all, this November voters were supposed to hear of Congressional timetables, forced withdrawals, and a cut-off of funds — not presidential candidates backing away from just those erstwhile demands to ponder driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
Hanson has hit on something here with that one quote from General George Patton, “America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser.” I argued from the moment the Democrats began saying that the election gave them a mandate to lose a war that they were badly misreading the results. I believe John "Pork-o-Rama" Murtha's sudden reversal yesterday about progress in Iraq (despite his extremely hasty "clarification" today) reflects some ugly internal polling results. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha and a host of others have cast themselves as losers. Let's hope Patton was right. As Hanson concludes:
Once you live by the daily polls, and mortgage lasting principle to transient popularity, then you become enslaved by them as well. So all eyes once again turn to the looking glass of Iraq.
The drama is not whether the Democrats once again will make the necessary political adjustments here at home just in time for an election — but whether it will work yet a third time.
There is an attempt to "reframe" the argument against the war, yet again. This time to say that yes, the surge is reducing violence, but there hasn't been enough political progress. Recall, if you will, the cries that the surge had failed – before the troops were even in country. But those political goals were only part of the intent of the surge. Political progress can only come when the violence is tamped down. That has happened, now there can be a chance for the political progress. Just like the screeching that the surge had failed was premature, calling the surge a failure because of an artificially imposed timeline is also out of place.
America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser. It would be wise to keep those words in mind.