Gen. David H. Petraeus comes to town in a week or so with authentic war news, and we haven't seen such anticipation of a visitor since some patient folks sat around waiting for Godot.
Harry Reid, the Democratic bag man from Las Vegas, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sneer that the general is only coming to deliver "the Bush report."
Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, reacts to the question as if he never heard of the general. "The Bush report?" he asks. "We know what's going to be in it. It's clear. I think the president's trip to Iraq makes it very obvious. I expect the Bush report to say, 'the surge is working. Let's have more of the same.' "
The Democratic campaign strategy for '08 is predicated on bad news and worse news from the Middle East. Every time there's a bit of good news from the war front and lately some of it has been brought back by Democrats the good news sends certain Democrats into a deep blue funk. "If the same people who were so wrong about this war from the start are writing substantial portions of [the Petraeus] report," says Rep. Van Hollen, "that raises credibility questions." Some of these doom-criers would have swooned in the miserable spring of 1942, when Rommel's unstoppable march across North Africa was finally stopped by the British at el-Alamein. Halfway around the world, the U.S. Navy turned back the Japanese tide at Midway.
The doomed-to-die crowd on the Democratic left must have bad news. Only bad news makes their hearts sing. Only bad news lifts their spirits. But try as they might, they can't find enough bad news. The New York Times, which would spin a jihadist beheading as merely a trip to the Red Cross blood bank, reports that "a mixed picture" in Iraq is leading Democratic leaders in the Senate to show "a new openness to compromise" with Republicans over how to cut and run. When the New York Times sees the picture as "mixed," you know the view from the left is dark, dank and drear.
These Democrats have concluded, the newspaper reports, that the decision to prevent votes on alternatives "left them open to criticism that they were being intransigent." Now that the Democratic congressmen have been home to talk to their constituents, they've returned to Washington willing to talk to the Republicans they were barely willing to speak to before they left town. A splash of cold water in a florid face can change attitudes.
Most Americans are not aware of the depth of the bitterness and resentment of those on the sullen left, who imagine that men and women just like them were meant to govern the nation. When voters installed Republicans in public office, it was proof that evil was ascendant. A lot of this sour resentment is reflected on the Internet, that wondrous place where any drunk with a laptop can file dispatches from his own fantasy world to an obscure destination in cyberspace, where it might even be read. Read or not, such bloggers reinforce each other, vying to say the most hateful thing about George W. Bush. The vitriol, mindless and melodramatic, is circulated endlessly, as if in a circular enema.
"If Congress won't act," writes one of le miserables, "I don't know why we should bother paying taxes or following any laws. The game's over ... nothing means jack any more. Get that Lee Greenwood song off the juke boxes and quit singing the National Anthem. We have no right to sing it any more. We're lower than the Japanese in '41. Cheney has cost us our honor. We are not Number 1. We are not the best and the brightest. G-d doesn't look at us, much less smile upon us. All of this because Bush lied to declare war to steal oil ... Such a sad end to a once great country."
No wonder Chuck, Harry and the boys have fallen into such a dark blue funk. Who can bear constituents like these?