Frustrations for the Democrats
After having staked so much in their successful 2006 congressional campaign on the war in Iraq, presuming that defeat was just around the corner, it must be terribly disheartening for the Democrats to have failed to alter the Bush administration's war policy by even one iota. Their vote to approve funding for the Defense Department without any strings attached (Democrat leaders had been demanding a timetable for withdrawal) marks a clear "surrender" (how ironic!) to President Bush, almost on par with the Republicans' surrender to President Clinton in the fall 1995 showdown over the budget. As Fred Barnes noted at the Weekly Standard, "Everything changed, of course, when General David Petraeus, the Iraq commander, testified before Congress in September." (Link via Instapundit). Everyone expected a dull, phony white wash of a crumbling military situation, but were shocked to learn from him that our forces have actually turned the tide of "battle," such as it is.
A big part of the Democrats' problem is the lack of discipline among the freshmen representatives, who tend to be moderate or even conservative. (Democrats In Name Only? ) The Washington Post profiled new Democratic Representatives Jason Altmire (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Brad Ellsworth (IN), and Heath Shuler (NC), the former Redskins quarterback. Each of them is well aware that reelection will depend much more on listening to their constituents than Nancy Pelosi. It is a heartening sign that Joe Lieberman is not the only sensible patriot on the Democratic side of the aisle, and I wish more Republicans would wake up to the fact that some Democrats do "get it" when it comes to national security. This illustrates once again that the political dynamic in American politics is shifting toward the center, and politicians who capitalize on that underlying reality will prosper, while those who heed the advice of ideologue pundits will lose.
GOP "horse race"
It's just as well that Tom Tancredo has dropped out of the presidential race, because his focus on the issue of immigration failed to convince many voters that he knew what to do about other critical issues. I'm glad he helped raise the public's awareness of the consequences of the status quo, and he deserves credit for it. I was going to move Mitt Romney up one notch in my rankings, based on his impressive, forthright articulation of what needs to be done about immigration when he appeared on Meet the Press recently. There remains a nagging doubt, however, about whether his actions would correspond to his words. His recent gaffe about having seen his father march alongside Martin Luther King makes him look like a first-class panderer or worse. See the YouTube video clip on Blogs for Fred Thompson; "it depends on what the meaning of saw is."
The Iowa caucuses are really only eight days away? I'll have to start paying closer attention to all the campaign