You could compare them to the most famous losing lineups, the beloved 1962 Mets, and the 2003 Detroit Tigers who nearly broke the record for most losses. But the Democratic field, before Wesley Clark's entry, had one big advantage: they could attack their opponent week after week without any response. The endless soap opera of their debates had turned into one Bush-bashing television commercial, and they used it wisely. But the dynamic of their race is changed by General Clark's grand entrance. The pace is accelerated substantially. With Clark in, the Nine have to compete with him, and among themselves again. And as they do, Dubya's stock will rise, and people will start seeing the Dems in a more reasonable -- and much less favorable -- light.
In last week's two-hour segment of their never-ending debate, the Democrats' Dennis the Menace proved himself an honest whacko by saying that the troops should be brought home from Iraq forthwith, defense spending cut by 15% and the money used for child care. Reverend Al wanted to reduce military spending by cutting things such as the "F-11 bomber" of which there ain't no such thing. (Yeah, yeah, I know about the few fossilized F-11s at Davis-Monthan, a 1950s fighter the Blue Angels once flew. But the Rev doesn't know the difference between a submarine and a sandwich from Quiznos.)
The chief Deaniebopper was tremendously insulted when Dick Gephardt compared him to Newt Gingrich. He said no one on that stage deserved to be compared to Newt. What he doesn't realize is that, true though his remark might be, their whole party would be better off, and better for America, if they had learned something, anything, from Newt. The non-candidate Dems are taking over the Bush-bashing while the Tenuous Ten sort themselves out.
Teddy fulminated that the justification for the Iraq campaign was cooked up in Texas for the benefit of the Republican faithful. "There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud," Kennedy said. The President called Kennedy "uncivil." It was far more than that.
Let's keep it simple, so even semi-sober senators can understand. If the President had done what Mr. Kennedy accuses him of, it would be a material and direct violation of his oath of office, a high crime against our Nation, and an impeachable offense. If Teddy really believed what he said, he'd be screaming for a bill of impeachment against President Bush which some other congressional caricature could be found to introduce in the House. None of that will happen because what Kennedy is spewing is just political hot air. But that doesn't mean the Dems won't try to make Dubya's life miserable even if it costs lives or makes it harder for us to complete the Iraq job. The President's request for $87 billion to fund the war and the building of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq is running into surprisingly stiff opposition in Congress.
Last week's Senate hearings featured a repeat of Dem demands for "full disclosure" of the costs of the war, of building Iraq and Afghanistan democracies, and of the continued war against terrorism. Once again, the Dems are proving they are mired in the words that buoyed them while they sank South Vietnam.
The costs of that war -- in blood and treasure -- caused the Dems to hate themselves, for it was Kennedy's war, and then Johnson's. George McGovern's ascendancy in 1972 was his party's salvation. At least until the votes were counted. But when Nixon was gone, they tried again. The last American troops left South Vietnam in 1974, and when the North attacked again, President Ford's urgent request for financial aid to save our ally was rejected. Teddy should remember. He was there.
A little more than six months after our last troops pulled out, the South Vietnamese collapsed and the last helo lifted out of Saigon. Financial schedules stating the limits of aid, setting deadlines for withdrawal and such, are all recipes for disaster. Publish a deadline, set a limit on money to be spent, and all you do is tell the enemy how and when he can win. Those facts don't even faze the Dems. They would be content for us to fail -- as the French are anxious for us to do - and for the same reason.
The Dems are the party of Chirac and France. In order for the Dems to return to power -- or for the French to gain ascendancy in a Eurocentric United Nations -- we must fail in Iraq. The French are likely to succeed sooner than the Dems. Though Dubya's numbers are down, he will get the money he asked for, or an amount very close to it. The Dems -- other than Dennis -- don't have the guts to say otherwise. The French have already succeeded -- for a time, at least -- at the U.N.
The French have again succeeded in blocking U.N. help in Iraq, without even having to vote their veto in the Security Council. Their influence there is on the rise, and the anti-American nations of the Third World seem content to follow France in the General Assembly. It costs them nothing, and may gain them points with the European Union. Our position is substantially weaker in the U.N. because our principal ally in the Security Council -- Britain -- is suffering the shrinkage of its prime minister.
If we need to do something about Iran or Syria or another source of terror soon, Britain won't be able to stand with us at the U.N. or on the battlefield. Tony Blair is substantially weaker than he was six months ago, and senior members of his own party are speaking loudly about the end of his government. Though he was right to bring Britain into the Iraq fight, he won't be able to do anything like that next year or the year after (if he lasts that long). In the next go-round Tommy Atkins will have to sit and watch while Willie and Joe do the job. Our other allies -- Australia, Spain, Poland and a couple more -- are wonderful and valuable. But their forces can't do what the Brits can because their forces aren't as well-equipped or well-manned. The next time we fight, Tommy Atkins will be sorely missed. So will Tony Blair.