Now is the time for Democrats to act. Now is the time for the Democrats to solidify themselves for years to come as the party of spine, the party of strong, committed decision-making, the party of honest assessment and perspective.
Many Republicans have begun to comment that they will have a decision on Iraq by “September.” September is four months away, four months more of decision-making time lost, of soldiers killed and maimed and families destroyed, four more months of a enormously unpopular and increasingly irrelevant president and minority in Congress setting the terms of the debate in this country. It is also four more months of this administration not only not being held accountable, but getting them closer to the date when they will never be held accountable.
A new strategy means making a new decision. When even President Bush decided a new strategy was needed, his decision was to offer more of the old strategy. He continues to do so. The President is the last person who wants to make a decision. He has offered every excuse in the book as to why no decision should be made. Republicans in Congress are equally happy to continue on the same path. If the 2008 elections rolled around with the same policy in place, there is still ample doubt in the minds of the electorate as to which party should be power. The Democrats have to be the party that finally makes a decision.
Setting aside the absurd Republican argument that timetables and benchmarks are “unpatriotic” and “don’t support the troops” and “embolden the enemy,” Democrats now have the opportunity to move forward, starting today, as the unambiguous, incontrovertible, indisputable, party of responsible, professional, mature, good governance. If they do not make the only decision, history will be no kinder to the Democrats as it will be to President Bush and his supporters.
The facts are in on Iraq (and have been for some years now). The United States military can do nothing more to support a stable progression toward self-rule in Iraq (to say nothing of the broader Middle East or the rest of the world for that matter, at least with the current administration in power). The choice the Democrats have to make is not whether to “pander” to the “radical left” or the “vehemently anti-war” wing of the party or to move toward the middle, where at least 60% of the country opposes the war. The choice the Democrats have to make is much larger. Will they continue to be the party that has enabled historic tragedy and immeasurable damage to the both the United States and the world?
Most Americans, and probably most citizens in most countries around the world, are still willing to restore American prestige and are ready to be led by the city on the hill once more. But Democrats must decisively embrace the opportunity they now have to end the war, not just before September, but before the end of this month. By May 31, Americans and the world must know definitively what the U.S. position in Iraq will be before President Bush is out of office.
The United States still can do substantial good in Iraq. It cannot do so with the current administration in charge. Americans are ready for decisive leadership. The Democrats can define themselves for many elections to come and they do not even have to make a choice. The choice has been made. The Democrats need to make it happen.