William Kristol gives a few reasons why Democrats seem to have abandoned the moderate strategy that won in November, in favor of anti-war rhetoric. He gives several reasons for the change in direction.
In part, an accelerated presidential race, with its own dynamic. In part, the fact of congressional majority status, which has its own dynamic too. But in largest part, Bush. He crossed up the Democrats. They expected him to stay the Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey course in Iraq. Or, they thought, he might accede to the Iraq Study Group, admit errors and lead us to gradual defeat. Neither would have required Democrats to do anything much except lament the lamentable situation into which Bush had got us. Instead, Bush replaced Rumsfeld, rejected the Iraq Study Group’s slow-motion-withdrawal option and chose to try a new strategy for victory, backed by a troop surge. The Democrats were genuinely shocked that Bush wouldn’t behave as if the war was lost.
Interesting to me was his take on Hillary’s statement that Bush should time a pullout in Iraq to a political timetable so troops would be out of Iraq before his successor took office.
This was an odd statement. After all, we presumably should get out of Iraq on whatever schedule we can responsibly do so, not so that the next President won’t be bothered in her first few months in office with something messy and unpleasant. But her statement was a sign of Democratic frustration overtaking Democratic good sense. Why the frustration? Do Democrats worry that Bush’s new strategy might actually work? Or, even if it doesn’t, that Republicans might not be penalized politically for supporting one last try for victory? In any case, it would be ironic if the anger of Democrats at Bush and his war, unleashed by his recent attempt to win it, undoes their moderate image of 2006 and hurts their chance to succeed Bush in November 2008.
I don’t know whether or not Democrats will pay a political price for their recent turn back to the Left, since favorable media treatment often turns a blind eye to unpopular statements and stands made by Democrats. As for Hillary’s statement about Bush not leaving Iraq for a successor to deal with, I am sure that President Bush would have preferred Bill Clinton not leave him an economy in recession and a bunch of terrorists in the U.S. with a 9/11 plot in place. Life sucks that way. Sometimes you end up dealing with messes left by others. If it bothers her that much to have to deal with messes, maybe the job of President is not for her.