January 4, 2006
Can Democrats Not See the Cliff Over Which They Are Plunging?

By Jack Kelly

Rep. John Murtha probably wasn't on President Bush's Christmas card list, but Democratic political analyst Charles Cook thinks he should have been.

Mr. Cook noted in the president's popularity started to rebound almost immediately after the Johnstown Democrat made a speech urging immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

"Prior to Murtha's well publicized speech advocating an early withdrawal, the spotlight had been on the Bush administration's use of intelligence that led to the decision to go to war," Mr. Cook said.

"Murtha's speech changed the debate, away from whether we should have invaded Iraq and whether the use of intelligence to make that decision was flawed toward the more problematic issue of 'what do wedo now,'" he said.

While a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to have gone into Iraq in the first place, a larger majority thinks it would be a bigger mistake to cut and run. Rep. Murtha took the spotlight off the president and focused it on the Democrats, who have no "plan" for Iraq other than preemptive surrender.

Democrats are changing the debate again, in ways likely further to diminish their popularity.

Democrats in the Senate have filibustered extension of the Patriot Act, and Democrats there and elsewhere have expressed hysterical alarm that the National Security Agency has been listening in, without warrants, on conversations between al Qaida suspects abroad and people in the United States.

Many Americans doubt there is much of a connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terror. But only moonbats fail to see a connection between the fact that there have been no successful terrorist attacks on the United States since Sept. 11th, 2001, and the measures that have been taken to protect us.

A Rasmussen poll of 1,000 Americans released Wednesday indicated 64 percent of respondents think the NSA should be allowed to listen in on conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States. Only 23 percent of respondents disagreed.

The poll results can't be blamed on a lack of information. Two thirds of respondents said they were following the NSA story closely. Two polls taken on the Patriot Act last June indicated about 60 percent of respondents favored its renewal.

The two enduring mysteries of contemporary politics are why President Bush doesn't talk more about the war on terror, and why Democrats won't shut up about it.

"Apparently, Democrats still do not fully grasp that the public has profound and long-standing concerns about their ability to defend the nation," said John McIntyre of the popular RealClearPolitics. Former Clinton pollster Dick Morris thinks the fundamental error the Democrats are making is assuming that isolationists who oppose the war in Iraq share their views on domestic security.

Polling he did for President Clinton indicated about 35 percent of Americans are isolationists, roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, Morris wrote in his New York Post column Tuesday. Conservative isolationists are angry with President Bush for invading Iraq, but support him on domestic security, Morris said.

"The very same voters the Democrats attract by attacking the war they lose by condemning domestic wiretaps and the Patriot Act," he said. The Hotline newsletter thinks the renewed focus on national security could propel the GOP to a comeback victory in 2006, just as it did in 2002:

"In '02, the prevailing assumption going into the midterms was that the Dems, as the opposition party, would pick up seats," Hotline said. "Then, like now, there was a potent political issue over national security (creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which the Democrats were delaying)...If national security again plays a major role, the GOP might perform better than the gloomy predictions of present."

Perhaps Democratic opposition to security measures is motivated by principle. But Democrats often have sacrificed principle for partisan advantage, which makes their current behavior puzzling. Can't they see the cliff over which the party is plunging?

I think the McCain Feingold law is part of the problem. By making it harder for Democrats to raise money from ordinary folks, it gives more power to special interest groups and to wealthy moonbats like George Soros. The need for campaign cash drives many Democrats who would not normally associate with it toward the lunatic fringe.

Jack Kelly is national security columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

Jack Kelly

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