- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Well, that old Iraqi quagmire just keeps getting worse and worse, if only for the Democratic Party. What was the straw they were clutching at back in January? Oh, yeah, sure, gazillions of Kurds and Shi’ites might have gone to the polls, but where were the Sunni?

As some of us said at the time, the Sunni’ll come out tomorrow. And so they did. On Thursday, they voted in record numbers, leaving Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats frantically scrambling for another disaffected Iraqi minority group they could use as proof that the whole crazy neocon war-for-oil scam was a bust.

Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any disaffected Iraqi minority groups left. Oh, wait, there’s Ahmed at 37 Sword of the Infidel Slayer Gardens in Ramadi. Apparently he still rejects the new constitution. Maybe, if we’re lucky, he has a mildly irked brother. Whoops, sorry, they just went off to vote, too.

Heigh-ho. The Iraq election’s over, the media did their best to ignore it, and, judging from the rippling torsos I saw every time I switched on the TV, the press seem to reckon that gay cowboy movie was the big geopolitical event of last week, if not of all time. Yes, yes, I know: They’re not, technically, cowboys, they’re gay shepherds, but even Hollywood isn’t crazy enough to think it can sell gay shepherds to the world.

And the point is, even if I was in the mood for a story about two rugged, insecure men who find themselves strangely attracted to each other in a dark transgressive relationship that breaks all the rules, who needs Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger when you’ve got Howard Dean and Abu Musad al-Zarqawi? Yee-haw. And, if that sounds unfair, pick almost any recent statement by a big-time Dem cowboy and tell me how exactly it would differ from the pep talks Zarqawi gives his dwindling band of head-hackers — Mr. Dean arguing that America can’t win in Iraq, Barbara Boxer demanding the troops begin withdrawing Dec. 15, John Kerry accusing American soldiers of terrorizing Iraqi women and children, Jack Murtha declaring the U.S. Army is utterly broken. Pepper ‘em with a handful of “Praise be to Allahs” and any one of those statements could have been uttered by Zarqawi.

The Democras have contrived to get themselves into a situation where bad news from Iraq is good for them and good news from Iraq is bad for them. And there’s much more good news than bad these days. And that puts them, politically, in a tough spot — even with a fawning media that, faced with Mr. Kerry and Mr. Murtha talking what in any objective sense is drivel, decline to call for the men with white coats but instead nod solemnly and wonder whether George W. Bush is living “in a bubble.”

One day Iraq will be a G7 member hosting the Olympics in the world’s No. 1 luxury vacation resort of Fallujah, and the Defeaticrat Party will still run around screaming it’s a quagmire.

It’s not just that Iraq is going better than expected, but that it’s a huge success very deftly managed: The timeframe imposed on the democratic process turns out to have worked very well — the transfer of sovereignty, the vote on a constitutional assembly, ratification of the constitution, the vote for a legislature — and, in hindsight, it now looks like an ingeniously constructed way to bring the various parties on board in the right order: first the Kurds, then the Shi’ites, now the Sunnis. That doesn’t leave many folks over on the other side except Zarqawi and Mr. Dean. What do the two have in common? They’re both foreigners, neither of whom have the slightest interest in the Iraqi people.

And no, I’m not questioning their patriotism. Honestly, who can be bothered questioning anything so footling as Howard Dean’s patriotism? If you’re a Democratic patriot and outraged by my linking your party to the “insurgents,” take it up with your leaders: They’re the ones who overinvested in American failure. Instead of being angry at me, you should be ashamed of them.

Your party is regarded as unserious on national security because it got it wrong last time round, when John Kerry spent the last half of the Cold War siding with every loser on the planet — opposing Grenada’s liberation, supporting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

And at least that little Sandinista guy looked awful cute in his fatigues, like a novelty houseboy Teresa picked up on vacation. It’s hard to believe a bunch of crazy mullahs and suicide bombers will do much for the lefty T-shirt business.

George Clooney, the matinee idol, made an interesting point the other day. He said “liberal” had become a dirty word and he would like to change that. Fair enough. So I hope he won’t mind if I make a suggestion. The best way to reclaim “liberal” for the angels is to get on the right side of history — the side the Iraqi people are on. The word “liberal” has no meaning if those who wear the label refuse to celebrate the birth of a new democracy after 40 years of tyranny. Yet, if you wandered the Internet on Thursday, you came across far too many “liberals” who watched the election, shrugged and went straight back to Valerie Plame, weapons of mass destruction, George Bush lied.

Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers. That’s what this is about: Millions of Kurds, Shi’ites and Sunnis beaming as they emerge from polling stations and hold up their purple fingers after the freest, fairest election ever held in the Arab world.

“Liberal” in the American sense is a dirty word because it has come to stand for a shriveled parochial obsolescent irrelevance, of which “Good Night And Good Luck,” Mr. Clooney’s dreary little retread of the McCarthy years, is merely the latest example. (Mr. Clooney says he wants more journalists to “speak truth to power,” which is why I’m insulting his movie.)

The Anglo-American political tradition is the most successful in the world in part because of the concept of “loyal opposition.” Yes, the party out of office opposes the party in office and hopes to supplant it, but not at the expense of the broader political culture. A party that winds up cheerleading for a deranged loser death cult is the very definition of pointless self-defeating sour oppositionism. So, as Zarqawi flails, Messrs. Dean and Murtha and Kerry flail ever more pathetically, too. Just wait till the WMD turn up.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

Mark Steyn, 2005

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