- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2002

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was at it again this week, sniping away at President Bush's conduct of the war on terror. Mr. Daschle, who last month objected to Mr. Bush's description of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" only to try to back away from himself several days later, suggested Thursday that Mr. Bush's policies could result in a war that, well, takes too long.

Mr. Daschle professed to be "concerned" that "there is an open-endedness" to the war and suggested that the war could not be considered a success unless Osama bin Laden were captured. Bush administration officials, by contrast, have rightly been pointing out for months that the war on terror involves much more than capturing bin Laden, and that it may take years to decisively win against thousands of al Qaeda operatives hidden in dozens of countries around the world.

Mr. Daschle's latest broadside drew a storm of return fire from congressional Republicans, among them House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose office issued a one-word statement: "Disgusting." Mr. Daschle is hardly the lone Democrat on Capitol Hill parroting such nonsense. On Wednesday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, who previously accused Mr. Bush of "shooting from the hip" with his axis of evil remarks, took time out from his day job of funneling pork to West Virginia to lecture Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz about the cost of the war. "Instead of concentrating on completing our operations in Afghanistan, the Pentagon seems to be looking for opportunities to stay longer and expand our presence in the region," Mr. Byrd complained. "There's no end in sight to our mission in Afghanistan."

Other prominent Democratic senators have groused at Mr. Bush's handling of the war. In October, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden of Delaware suggested that the United States risked looking like a "high-tech bully." Last month, John Kerry of Massachusetts suggested that, by telling the truth about Tehran's support for terrorism and efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Bush was "help[ing] to strengthen the anti-American hand" in Iran. For his part, Bob Graham of Florida, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, waxed not so eloquent Feb. 23 on CNN's "Novak, Hunt and Shields," saying "we should avoid the temptation of diverting ourselves from the war" on terror unless "we have evidence that Saddam Hussein is close to having weapons of mass destruction." No one seems to have bothered to brief Mr. Graham about Saddam's ongoing chemical and biological weapons programs, or his extensive efforts to develop nuclear weapons, which have been in place for decades.

To get the perspective from the extreme margin, however, it's necessary to go to the House Democrats. FrontPage Magazine.com reports that at a Feb. 17 forum at the University of Southern California, Rep. Maxine Waters of California said Congress had "foolishly" given Mr. Bush the power to go after terrorists following the September 11 attacks, that the president had decided to "go crazy" with such authority. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio attacked "the lying games, the war games of an unelected president."

This is the sort of modern-day "useful idiocy" that should cause rank-and-file Democrats to wonder who, if anyone, is in charge of their party.

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