Unnereved by the recent spate of bad news - we got Zarqawi, they didn't get Karl Rove, and our President went to Baghdad - Frank Rich lashes into the Democrats:
But in 2006? The war is going so badly that it's hard to imagine how the Democrats, fractious as they are, could fail, particularly if the Republicans insist on highlighting the debacle, as they did last week by staging a Congressional mud fight about Iraq on the same day that the American death toll reached 2,500. As the Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio wittily observed in April: "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."
Actually, though, the Democrats did have some plans, all of them now capsizing. The biggest was the hope that they could be propelled into power by their opponents' implosions. But Mr. Rove was not indicted. And the "culture of corruption" has lost its zing. Tom DeLay is gone, Duke Cunningham is in jail, and many Americans can't differentiate between Jack Abramoff, the Indian casino maven, and William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who kept $90,000 of very cool cash in his freezer.
On the war, Democrats are fighting among themselves or, worse, running away from it altogether. Last week the party's most prominent politician, Hillary Clinton, rejected both the president's strategy of continuing with "his open-ended commitment" in Iraq and some Democrats' strategy of setting "a date certain" for withdrawal. She was booed by some in her liberal audience who chanted, "Bring the troops home now!" But her real sin was not that she failed to endorse that option, but that she failed to endorse any option.
Like Mr. Bush, she presented a false choice — either stay the course or cut and run — yet unlike Mr. Bush, she didn't even alight on one of them.
...the Democrats float Band-Aid nostrums and bumper-sticker marketing strategies like "Together, America Can Do Better." As the linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out, "The very ungrammaticality of the Democrats' slogan reminds you that this is a party with a chronic problem of telling a coherent story about itself, right down to an inability to get its adverbs and subjects to agree." On Wednesday Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were to announce their party's "New Direction" agenda — actually, an inoffensive checklist of old directions (raise the minimum wage, cut student loan costs, etc.) — that didn't even mention Iraq. Symbolically enough, they had to abruptly reschedule the public unveiling to attend Mr. Bush's briefing on his triumphant trip to Baghdad.
Those who are most enraged about the administration's reckless misadventures are incredulous that it repeatedly gets away with the same stunts. Last week the president was still invoking 9/11 to justify the war in Iraq, which he again conflated with the war on Islamic jihadism — the war we are now losing, by the way, in Afghanistan and Somalia. But as long as the Democrats keep repeating their own mistakes, they will lose to the party whose mistakes are, if nothing else, packaged as one heckuva show. It's better to have the courage of bad convictions than no courage or convictions at all.
After the 2002 Dem debacle, observers noted that you can't beat something with nothing. Here we go again.