- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Destroying a president is not much of a strategy to win a war, but it’s all the Democrats have.

The churls of the left don’t seem to care whether their country wins the war, the important thing is to “keep hate alive.” If hate worked in ‘06, maybe it will work again in ‘08, when the stakes will be considerably higher.

Sometimes it’s not only hate, but a bit of schadenfreude, too, taking pleasure in the woes of the enemy. “Partisan pleasure in George Bush’s pain dates to the anguish of the contested 2000 election loss,” observes Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal. “The Democrats have run against something called ‘Bush’ for so long this sentiment is now bound up in any act or policy remotely attached to the president. Iraq’s troubles, or Iran or North Korea, are merely an artifact of crushing this one guy.”

The president’s tormentors in Congress, some old and some new, insist they don’t have anything against the fine young Americans with their lives on the line in Iraq, but the troops are dispensable to the larger partisan goal of destroying George W. and abdicating the responsibility that comes with being the world’s only superpower. If the troops are hurt, too, well, that’s just a risk the critics will have to endure.

Senators are leading the rush to judgment. Hillary Clinton, buoyed by the early polls that show her blowing Barack Obama out of the race, scoffs that the war she voted for is “a dead end.” Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, asks whether “the clock has already run out.” The very point of her question is the smug assertion that of course it has. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has all but given up his ambition to be John McCain when he grows up, says the obvious: “We have anarchy in Iraq. It’s getting worse.” You can hear the glee in his voice. John Warner of Virginia, eager to demonstrate that he’s no son of the hard, determined men who wrote the book on standing firm against all odds as a fabled army of northern Virginia, rushes to join partisans across the aisle to forge a resolution of regret, retreat and ruin. “Nonbinding,” of course. Senators never bind themselves to anything but their egos and personal interests (which is why we haven’t elected a senator as president in nearly half a century).

Sometimes a senator, oily and evasive as only senators can be, lets slip a remark that reveals all. David Gregory of NBC News provoked Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, into such a revealing remark the other day. He reminded him of Vice President Cheney’s description of the Senate resolution as something (a) the president wouldn’t pay any attention to because (b) it would “be detrimental to the troops on the ground.”

The senator thought he was only begging to differ when he replied: “Absolutely not, and I think it’s going to be shown, when this resolution comes up, and it is nonbinding, that not only are we going to get a vast majority of Democrats to vote for it in one form or another, but close to the a majority of the Republicans.”

The reporter pressed him to answer the question: “But how can the public really buy the Democrats’ support of the troops but don’t support the mission? How can you do both?”

How, indeed. How do you tell the troops that “we resolve, to paraphrase John Kerry, you’re probably not much better than war criminals, but hey, guys, we support you.” Mr. Schumer squirmed, and his face reflected just for an instant the look of a man cornered. “Well,” he finally replied, “that’s the difficulty. A resolution that says we’re against this escalation, that’s easy. The next step will be how do you put further pressure on the administration but still support the troops who are there? And that’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

The fiercest critics of the commander in chief (the one the critics despise) and his troops (the ones the critics support) concede they don’t have a clue about what the president should do in Iraq. “I can’t tell you what the path to success is,” says Norm Coleman, a Republican of Minnesota. Joe Biden, plagiarizing every other weak sister in town, says the “primary” strategy is to make the Iraqis “compromise” and “end the violence.” Hillary says the president should “talk to bad people” to see what they want (the “bad people” have already said exactly what they want, loud and clear). John Edwards says he would get tough as president, and if talk doesn’t work he’ll talk some more.

But of course. Isn’t that what senators do?

Pruden on Politics runs Tuesdays and Fridays.

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