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The long night

Cynical politics have undermined war-time efforts before

Issue: "Big bucks ministries," July 28, 2007

Senate Democrats, who had announced an all-nighter July 17 to reiterate their anti-war positions, packed it in shortly before midnight, surrendering to a greater desire for a few hours of sleep. Only a handful of stalwart senators kept the Senate-technically-in session. We know that Senate Democrats don't have the staying power to win the war in Iraq, but can't they even make it through the night?

"Harry, sweetheart," said Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who led a group of Democrats in pleading with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for a delay in voting, "5:30 or 6?"

Reid complied and senators abandoned the chamber so fast you would have thought it was on fire.

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This was not a demonstration of the strength needed to strike fear in the hearts of those who can tough it out in caves while plotting new ways to destroy us.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, noted that the surge of 30,000 American troops is in its infancy and in fact has just been completed in the last two weeks, "and yet we're pulling the rug out from under the new plan. . . . We cannot be the greatest country on earth and say, 'don't trust us if you're our ally and don't fear us if you're our enemy.' And that's exactly what we would be doing if we leave Iraq because Congress sets a deadline, regardless of what's happening on the ground in Iraq."

Democrats are fond of saying that the United States should be fighting al-Qaeda, but not in Iraq, and that if we pull out, or pull back, we will have more resources to fight terrorists. This is like saying we should not have fought the Japanese in World War II in order to devote more resources to defeating Hitler.

Since the American Revolution, there have always been naysayers, doubters, fellow travelers, and willing or duped enablers of America's enemies. There have been politicians, academics, clergy, and journalists who claimed that U.S. foreign policy, whether promoted by a Democratic or Republican president, was the wrong policy. Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt had strong opposition to their conduct of the Civil War and World War II. Harry Truman left office with record low approval ratings. Those presidents eventually won favor from historians and most Americans because they stuck to their guns-figuratively and literally-and were proved right.

There will be plenty of time for debate in September when the report on the effectiveness of the surge comes from Gen. David Petraeus. Do Democrats fear it will be a positive and so they are doing their best to undermine it now? Has our politics become so cynical that some would prefer defeat for political advantage rather than victory?

-© 2007 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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