December 16, 2005
It's About Time Somebody Challenged White-Flag Democrats

By Mark Davis

For months, the White House said little as its most unhinged critics beat the drum of conspiratorial excess. Last month, when Vice President Cheney properly rebuked the political bigotry of the "Bush lied" crowd, it was hard to know whether it was a welcome awakening or too little, too late in a nation that doesn't seem to have the stomach for war.

This week, as President Bush stands behind a different lectern every other day to talk up the war effort, his poll numbers seem to have slowly nudged upward. Skeptics say this is because the public has noticed the improving economy and lower gas prices, and they may be right.

But the Republican National Committee has launched an ad on its Web site (www.gop.com) that leaves no doubt where the war debate is headed. It is time to pass judgment on the pronouncements of the harshest war critics.

The ad begins with black block letters on a white screen. "Democrats have a plan for Iraq," it reads. "Retreat and Defeat."

A white flag waves across the screen to reveal a still photo of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. We hear his words from last week's disastrous interview on a San Antonio radio station: "The idea that we're gonna win this war is, unfortunately, an idea that is just plain wrong."

A white flag waves across his face. Next we see U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in a cable news interview: "So there's no specific time frame, but I would say the withdrawal ought to start now, right after the elections, Dec. 15."

Another white flag waves, another sound bite plays, this time from the Democrats' 2004 presidential candidate, John Kerry, speaking with Bob Schieffer on CBS: "There is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids, children, you know, women."

The white flag courses across his image, leaving a white screen. A message appears: "Our country is at war. Our soldiers are watching." The shot pans out to show a soldier who has been watching all of this on a large TV screen. "And our enemies are too."

Those words fade to the final message. "Retreat and defeat is not an option."

So, what'd you think?

This past weekend, some supposed war-backers couldn't wait to distance from it. On NBC's Meet the Press, possible presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called on the RNC to pull the ad, calling for a campaign that would "unite the country," not "a campaign about who's a patriot."

On the same show, conservative David Brooks, who manages to keep a job at The New York Times, gave the ad the back of his hand as well. "Political consultants are so stupid," he complained.

But are they in this case? Why is it a bad thing to identify the following:

•A national party chairman who says we are going to lose the war;

•A U.S. senator who calls for immediate withdrawal before the mission is complete;

•A presidential candidate who continues his penchant for slandering troops by maligning their search for insurgents as terrorizing women and children?

Let's make a deal. As long as bitter vets like Rep. John Murtha can continue to make our troops the villains, and as long as frauds like Cindy Sheehan can become the toast of two continents, I don't want to hear a lot of whining – especially from Republicans – if the RNC does what all who support the troops should do: Identify rhetoric that is deleterious to the war effort.

Mark Davis is a columnist for the Dallas Morning News. The Mark Davis Show is heard weekdays nationwide on the ABC Radio Network. His e-mail address is mdavis@wbap.com.

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