The debate over Iraq is getting nastier, if that's possible, and the new target of antiwar Democrats isn't even President Bush. It's Joe Lieberman, the Democrat from Connecticut and 2000 running mate of Al Gore, who has dared to suggest we must and will win the war.
"I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there," Senator Lieberman wrote on these pages November 29. "What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will [in Iraq]."
When that policy substance was ignored in Washington, the Senator repeated his case last week in the political language the Beltway press corps could finally comprehend: "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander in Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation's peril." The media, and his fellow Democrats, seemed agog.
And it's true that in modern, polarized Washington, such bipartisan sentiments are unusual. But as Mr. Lieberman also noted last week, they have a historic parallel from the early days of the Cold War. Then a Democratic President, Harry Truman, was trying to build alliances to resist Communism amid ferocious criticism from many Republicans, including their Senate leader, Ohio's Robert Taft. But a GOP Senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, stepped forward to support Truman, and the bipartisan "containment" strategy was born. Forty years later it would result in victory under Ronald Reagan.
We're now in the early stages of what might be another long, twilight struggle, this time against Islamist terrorism, and now the partisan tables are turned. While a Republican President is trying to win a campaign in Iraq that is part of a larger war, most Democrats are assailing his policy and predicting disaster, and even the party's senior Members have begun a Vietnam-like chant to "come home, America."