Congress Again Endorses The War
The Iraq war and the issues enveloping it are quite clearly central at this time to American politics. That is obviously true with regard to the midterm elections this fall, and it probably will be true in the next Presidential election as well. The Congressional votes, in the Senate earlier and now the House, will have considerable influence. It is an important story, and obviously should have been on Page 1 in both papers.
I should also reiterate what will be known to all frequent readers of this blog: I support the American campaign in Iraq unreservedly, because I think it has everything to do with our security and our future position in the world, and I flatly oppose any proposal to set a date for an American pullout.
That said, I have to acknowledge that the position of some Democrats for such a pullout almost certainly has more support in the country than the paltry six votes that Sen. John Kerry was able to muster in the Senate this week.
A test of antiwar sentiment will come in the Connecticut primary Aug. 8, when Sen. Joe Lieberman, a supporter of the war, faces a challenge from an anti-war candidate who has achieved considerable standing in the early polls.
It is possible, but I think at this moment unlikely, that a McGovernite candidate could win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. If one did, I think the ultimate result would be similar to the 1972 election, when Richard Nixon easily turned aside the McGovern challenge (but not before foolishly sparking the Watergate scandal).
The reason is that regardless of discouraging news from difficult wars, the American people from World War II on have supported the nation's preeminent power position in the world, and if put to a clear test, I believe they would do so again.
However, a more centrist Democratic candidate in 2008, somewhat skeptical of the war and promising some change, could well prevail, if the Iraq war has not changed materially for the better by then.
The Democratic party, like the British Laborites who opposed the British Empire in the 20th century, is split on the pullout question, with the majority, as reflected in the 150 Democratic votes in the House yesterday. upholding an eventual retreat from Iraq, or at least a lessening of the American commitment. Forty-two Democrats crossed party lines and supported the majority Republican position backing the Administration, and I was pleased to see my own Congressman, Rep. Howard Berman, was among them. However, another nearby Democratic Congressman, Brad Sherman, showing the singular lack of courage which often characterizes him, refused to take a position, merely voting "Present."
Sen. Kerry of Massachusetts was joined by five other Democrats who voted against the pro-war Republican position in the Senate. They were Barbara Boxer of California, Bob Byrd of West Virginia, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Kerry pretended to be ambivalent about the war when he ran for President. But ever since, the former war hero has firmly opposed the Administration position.
I notice that one of the most prominent anti-war Democrats, the former Marine John Murtha of Pennsylvania, is quoted in the L.A. Times this morning as saying, "We support the troops. It's the policy we don't support." He sounds like Andres Martinez, the editorial page editor of the L.A. Times.
I take rather violent exception to this remark. Supporting the troops without supporting the war they are fighting and dying in is meaningless.
In the Civil War, 1861-65, most Democrats opposed the Lincoln war policy and early in 1864, as he prepared to run for reelection, President Lincoln feared he might lose the election. But then, on Sept. 2, 1864, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman took Atlanta and cabled the President, "Atlanta is ours and fairly won." That was it, Lincoln won handily.
Some such development is possible in Iraq, and it's clear that if the U.S. was to be seen as winning the war by the 2008 elections, the American people would rally to the pro-war position. Also, if there were a major terrorist attack on the U.S., there would be a rallying too, but the terrorist Osama bin Laden knows that, and probably will not initiate an attack inside the U.S. so as to not fire up the American people. He made that mistake once on 9-11. He probably will not repeat it.