The American people fall into four categories in their thinking about the war in Iraq.
There are those who opposed the decision to go to war in 2003 for moral and prudential reasons and who remain opposed to American military operations in Iraq today.
There are those who felt it was the right decision in 2003, based on the information we had, and remains the right decision today.
There are those who believe it was the wrong decision in 2003, but as a result of the damage a defeat in Iraq would inflict on American interests, are committed to seeing a faulty venture through to some sort of success.
Then there is a final group that supported the decision to go to war in 2003, but now say the decision was wrong.
The motivations of people in the first three groups are transparent enough, reflecting to varying degrees American foreign policy traditions of pacifism, isolationism, realism, humanitarianism, idealism and pragmatism.
About the fourth group, motivations are more opaque. Some people have reassessed their positions based on the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, the high cost in blood and money or the emergence of a sectarian struggle for which the American military is not intended and should not police. Some say their support was based on faulty information.
Plenty of principled reasons exist to explain a change in opposition to the war. But it's next to impossible to observe the waffling of the American political class with respect to Iraq and not conclude that some are motivated not by principle or national interest but instead by polls and political preservation.
Among the many wafflers are members of Congress from both parties and one former vice president who were privy to classified intelligence reports and briefings.
They championed and voted for the Iraq Liberation Act, signed into law by President Clinton, which declared it "the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government."
They thundered in no uncertain terms about the dire threat Baathist Iraq posed to American allies and interests.
And they voted to authorize President Bush to use military force against Saddam because, as Sen. John Kerry, who served on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee from 1993 to 2001, explained, "I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region."
The waffler in chief is, without a doubt, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "If I had been president in October of 2002," Clinton told partisans at this month's Democratic National Committee Winter Meetings, "I would not have started this war."
Of course, as a senator in October 2002, she along with 28 other Democrats in the Senate and 81 in the House voted to empower the current president to do exactly what she said she wouldn't have done.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voted against the Iraq war authorization in 2002. So her support of a nonbinding resolution that critiques Bush administration strategy in Iraq is, while meaningless, at least consistent, unlike Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted for authorization.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., is both consistent and principled. He voted against the war authorization five years ago and he advocates Congress exercising its constitutional authority to cut off funding for the Iraq war today.
But the wafflers in charge aren't interested in sticking their partisan necks out on principle. Which is why presidential candidate Clinton said it's Bush's responsibility to "extricate our country from this before he leaves office."
Perhaps Clinton and others like her have honorable reasons, related to the national interest, for their anti-war conversions. But given the dissembling of erstwhile war supporters who have joined the ranks of the anti-Iraq-war faithful, it's difficult to believe anything other than their own political interests come first.