Jewish World Review April 10, 2003 / 8 Nisan, 5763
On our side? Imagine that!
I suppose the picture is meant to symbolize how the people of Iraq now love us and hate Saddam.
But I can't shake the feeling that about a month ago these same people were spitting on President Bush's picture and burning the American flag.
I can't shake the feeling that at least some of these people back whoever is winning at the moment.
But I guess you can't really blame them for that: The Democratic Party is having the same problem.
Back before the war began, many Democratic Party regulars -- those who show up at political events, anyway -- were firmly antiwar.
And the top tier of the party's presidential candidates, who were all pro-war -- John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman -- got beat up pretty good at party events.
At the California Democratic State Convention in Sacramento in March just before the war began, Kerry got heckled when he said, "The United States of America should never go to war because it wants to; we should go to war because we have to!"
"Then why did you vote for it?" a man shouted out from the crowd.
Which was a pretty good question.
When Edwards told the crowd: "I believe Saddam Hussein is a serious threat. I believe he must be disarmed, including with the use of military force if necessary," he was soundly booed.
Lieberman didn't show up because he probably didn't want to get booed. "If Lieberman had shown up," one Democratic operative told me, "they probably would have thrown furniture at him."
So Lieberman sent a videotape. And the videotape got booed.
But at least these politicians were standing up for what they believed in. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, decided to stand up only for his own re-election.
Facing re-election last year, Harkin voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq.
But after winning re-election, Harkin said he was "fooled" and, sensing where the Democratic Party now stood in Iowa, he ripped Bush up on the war.
"If you're a cowboy from West Texas, it's OK to want to go in and kick Saddam Hussein's butt," Harkin said last month before the war began. "But if you're president of a country that will commit hundreds of thousands of troops, spend billions of dollars and likely need the help of the world to rebuild Iraq over the next 10 years, you had better explain why you're going to unilaterally attack a country that is not an imminent threat to us."
Today, Harkin does not want to dwell on the war. He wants to talk about important domestic issues, instead.
Gee, I wonder why.
Last weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, Harkin hosted the first of his forums for the presidential candidates. This one featured Edwards, and Harkin had been telling reporters for days that he didn't want it to turn into a 90-minute antiwar forum.
Everybody expected Edwards to get beat up by the liberal, antiwar Democrats of Iowa.
So before the first question, Harkin told the crowd: "We are still at war in Iraq. I know there will be questions on the war ... but I hope the discussion focuses mainly on the economy."
Harkin didn't have to worry. Nobody wanted to stand up in front of C-SPAN and ask a question about the war. So, amazingly, Edwards did not get a single word of criticism for supporting this war.
But maybe that is not so amazing: Before the war began, many Democrats were against it. Now that the war seems virtually won, many Democrats seem very reluctant to question it.
That's the thing about winning. Afterward, everybody wants to be
on your side.
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