Saturday, December 10, 2005

Eternal Recurrence in the Democratic Party

Ed Morrissey has a column at the Daily Standard that certainly lends weight to the adage that history repeats itself. Here are a few nuggets:

The good news for the Democrats is that their leadership has settled on an electoral strategy for 2006. The bad news is that they have cribbed their game plan from one of the most disastrous campaigns in their history. The Democratic leadership has decided to elevate surrender to a party platform for the upcoming elections, with their national chairman, House leader, and last presidential nominee all running up the white flag as the Democratic war banner.

When was the last time that an entire political party stood for backpedaling the way the Democrats have in the past two weeks? Since Rep. John Murtha made his supposedly stunning announcement that he wanted an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, the Democrats have embraced surrender.

Not even during the Vietnam War did a major American party position itself to support abject retreat as a wartime political platform. For that, one has to go back to the Civil War, when the Democrats demanded a negotiated peace with the Confederate States of America and a withdrawal from the South. Celebrating the popularity of former General George McClellan, who had come from the battlefield to represent a party whose platform demanded a negotiated settlement (which McClellan later disavowed), the Confederates assumed that the war could be over within days of McClellan's presumed victory over the controversial and hated Abraham Lincoln. Even some Republicans began to question whether Lincoln should stand for reelection--until Sherman took Atlanta and exposed McClellan as a defeatist and an incompetent of the first order.

Murtha's demand for a pullout gave the party's leadership a chance to openly embrace defeatism, much as McClellan did for Northern Democrats in 1864, using McClellan's field experience for the credibility to argue that the American Army could not hope to defeat the enemy it faced.

Of course "redeployment" by disengagement with no intent to return to the battlefield has another term in military parlance: full retreat.

More than 140 years after McClellanism first raised its ugly head in the Democratic party, it has returned to drive party descendants into a frenzy of confusion and defeatism. Just as Iraq has begun to establish its democratic structure and its troops have begun to show progress towards organizing for their self-defense, the Democratic leadership is frantically looking for ways to bug out. Not even the courageous voices of Joe Lieberman and Steny Hoyer in opposition to their party leadership appear able to stop the panicked rush of the Democrats to claim defeat as their standard. The distaste of watching the Democratic leaders try to top one another in declaring America the loser in Iraq will convince voters to keep Democratic hands off the levers of national security for the foreseeable future.

Well, at least we should hope so.

The Republicans, inspired by Dennis Hastert's bold call for a vote on an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, have finally roused themselves from their torpor and decided they're tired of being the supine party. These new ads they're launching should be good for a few chuckles.