The Usual Suspects
by Michael Graham
Democrats ‹ It's in Their Nature
Perhaps I'm getting sentimental in my old age, but I was giving the Democrats until St. Patrick's Day to royally screw things up.
Now it looks like they won't make it that long.
The largely ignored story of the midterm election is the Democrats' mediocre performance at the ballot box. This election should have been the Gamecocks vs. Middle Tennessee State ‹ a blowout.
Instead it was Ohio State vs. Michigan, despite President Bush's poll ratings being in the toilet, public approval of the GOP Congress lurking in the septic tank, and the media broadcasting a nonstop pro-Democrat barrage of "objective" news specials like Cheney's Children: He Eats Them Boiled, Not Fried.
Give the Democrats credit for winning, but don't overlook the fact that the American people still don't trust them to govern. As Bill Clinton told a Democratic gathering after the election, "The voters haven't given us a mandate. They've given us a chance."
He's right. That's why post-election polls show that Iraq was the top issue in this election that handed power to the Democrats, and that 60 percent of Americans don't believe the Democrats have any idea what to do about Iraq.
This is the challenge facing the Democratic Party, to prove to the American people that they aren't a bunch of wild-eyed liberals pushing loony big-government programs.
Unfortunately for the former president, two days after his speech his wife announced that "Hillarycare" ‹ a wild-eyed, loony big-government takeover of the medical industry ‹ is back.
The Democrats haven't even taken over yet, and already Hillary Clinton wants socialized medicine; Dennis Kucinich wants to immediately cut funding for the military while its still in Iraq (you can buy ammo on your Amex, right?); and incoming House Judiciary Chairman Charlie Rangel, one of the most powerful members of the next Congress, can't decide which discredited 1970s policy to bring back first ‹ high taxes or the draft.
Every group of 200-plus politicians has its kooks, crooks and fringe activists. That's just a part of life. What's needed is a leader who can herd these cats, set high standards for ethics and performance and pull the party's center of gravity away from the extremes.
Instead, the Democrats chose House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, who is to middle America what Newt Gingrich was to the blue state West Coast: political kryptonite. Pelosi radiates the kind of San Francisco self-righteousness one would expect from a congresswoman whose city just threw the Junior ROTC out of every public school.
One of my rules to live by is that the problem with people who just don't get it is that they just don't get it. Watching Pelosi fighting to make corrupt and cranky John Murtha, D-Anywhere But Iraq, the new House majority leader (she lost), I wondered if it was possible for the Democrats to truly be this tone deaf.
Then word leaked that Pelosi might put a crook in charge of America's most sensitive intelligence information.
By the time you read this, we should know if Pelosi appointed Alcee Hastings, D-Where's the Cash?, to head the House Intelligence Committee. Yes, this is the same former Judge Hastings Pelosi voted to impeach for trying to take a $150,000 bribe from a couple of mobsters. (The vote by the Democrat-controlled Congress, by the way, was 413-3 to impeach.)
Pelosi is not dumb. She's not ignorant or uninformed. Neither are Rangel, Hillary Clinton or any of the other prominent Democrats already tilting their party to the left. So why are they doing it?
Because it's who they are. It's in their nature. The days of the Democrats as the "people's party" are long gone. They're the Left Coast's Party, the Aggrieved Interest Group's Party, the Internet Activist's Party.
Pundits asking if Pelosi can pull her party away from the loony left should start by asking the more fundamental question: Does she want to?
Justice for the GOP
What should pain Republicans most, and President Bush most of all, is that they deserved everything they got in the Nov. 7 midterm elections ... and more.
As I have written before, Bush lost his claim on conservative voters more than a year ago when he put open borders and runaway spending ahead of limited government and the rule of law. In 2004, I begged Bush to prove to the troops that failure in Iraq was not an option by firing the now former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And I've repeatedly complained to anyone who will listen that this president has committed the most unforgivable sin of all: sending American soldiers into battle without a complete commitment to their victory.
From keeping former CIA director George Tenet in his job too long to keeping the disastrous military leadership that repeatedly got Iraq wrong, Bush has proven that something other than victory (loyalty? politics?) was his highest priority.And now, Mr. president, that's exactly what you've got, at the ballot box and in the streets of Iraq: something other than victory.
Watching Bush fire Rumsfeld the day after his party lost control of Congress was a nauseating mix of bad timing and missed opportunity. If the president were as committed to military victory as he is to political victory, Rummy would have been tossed long ago. Now both battles have been lost.For despite U.S. House Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi's claims that this election was about health care, tax cuts, Mark Foley's hard drive, blah, blah, blah ‹ it was all about Iraq.
The American people made their point and they made it clearly and unambiguously: If you go to war, you better win. If you don't, the American people are going to punish you for it. It's called "justice."
Some congressional Republicans are whining about being unfairly held responsible for Bush's mistakes in Iraq. Sorry, guys, but you deserve everything you're getting, too. For too long, you've confused "congressman" with "cheerleader." [emphasis added] You don't work for the president, my GOP legislative friends. You work for we, the people.
Or at least you did until Nov. 7.
Imagine if, after the second invasion of Fallujah, 100 GOP congressmen had lined up on the steps of the Capitol and demanded Rumsfeld's head. Imagine a Republican Congress that threatened Defense Department funding unless the White House presented a new plan for victory. Imagine how many House and Senate seats those Republicans would hold today.
And while we're imagining, what if President Bush had spent the past three years following Lincoln's example, littering the White House lawn with the heads of unsuccessful generals? Republicans would have won the midterm election and, more importantly, America might be winning in Iraq today.
That's the real tragedy here. Our defeat in Iraq might be a great victory for the Democrats, but it's a far more significant victory for the Islamists. Iraq was an opportunity to carve out a home in the heart of the Middle East for a modern, moderate vision of Islam. Instead, it's an opportunity being lost.
Iraq is going so badly that American and British officials are openly discussing making a deal with the Iranians. You know , the world's largest exporter of Islamo-fascism?
A deal with Iran would be like a deal with Hitler's Germany, and (as the Polish discovered in 1939) just as reliable.
So forgive me if I don't shed even one tear for the lost careers of a few big-spending congressional hacks. Pardon me if I don't cry over the defeat of a president who has understood the Islamist threat so well, yet handled the response so very, very poorly.
I'm not a "values voter" or a social moderate/fiscal conservative or a member of the Log Cabin Republicans. I'm a "results Republican." I want America to win. Period.
In war, there is no substitute for victory. Not even Karl Rove's amazing GOP turnout machine.
Thanks, Michael, I could not have said better myself.