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Backfire By: David Harsanyi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 27, 2002


Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Surely most Republicans observed in giddy delight as Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle did his best imitation of Jack Palance on the Senate floor, accusing President Bush of "politicizing" the debate over national security and demanded he apologize for saying that Democrats were "not interested in the security of the American people."

Never mind that Daschle's partisan and calculated histrionics backfired pitifully. Disregard the irony of Daschle impulsively basing his theatrical attack on quotes that were taken out of context by his staunch leftist allies at the Washington Post. Republicans shouldn't let his grandstanding achieve its intended purpose. With no political leg to stand on, Daschle is trying to turn the Iraqi debate into a political wrestling match, desperately struggling to rekindle a debate that has already been lost.

Why else would a typically unruffled Daschle humiliate himself publicly? Had he finally had enough of playing Wylie Coyote to Bush's Roadrunner? Maybe the Senate Majority Leader thought the inevitable broad congressional support for preemptive strike against Iraq gave him the opportunity to appease the far Left faction of his party without consequence. Perhaps, Daschle was just trying to decelerate the drive for a joint Congressional resolution on the use of force against Iraq.

Whatever reasons Daschle had for his uncharacteristic outburst, it is his prevarication on homeland security and Iraqi, not the substance of his vote, that are indeed setting his political interests ahead of the security of the American people. They may do things at a leisurely pace in South Dakota, but you can bet Bismarck won't be the terrorists' next target.

Neither will West Virginia. Yet former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd did shed some light on one the Democrats' concerns, charging that Bush's "war strategy seems to have been hatched by a political strategist intent on winning the midterm election at any cost."

The Washington Post reported Thursday that more than a dozen Democrats, all of whom requested anonymity, oppose the president's strategy to confront Iraq but are going to support nonetheless for they fear a backlash from voters. Are these heroic Democrats prepared to send Americans to die in a war they supposedly oppose? If so, isn't that a barefaced attempt at "winning the midterm election at any cost"?

And how many Americans do you suppose dropped to their knees to thank God that the Supreme Court stopped the Democrat coup attempt of 2000 after reading the transcript of Al Gore speech earlier this week?

In a bizarre, and at times incoherent, speech at Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Gore firmly aligned himself with Berkley radicals, temporarily forgetting a multitude of other stands he's taken on Iraq. While many have methodically documented Gore's duplicitous double-talk, his recent adolescent appeasement of the Nader crowd, and above all his accusation that Bush was acting "in a manner calculated to please the portion of its base that occupies the far right," were clearly absurd.

Which far right is Gore referring to anyway? The far right of Joseph Lieberman? Or the far right of Tony Blair?

Days after Blair lucidly laid out the dangers of allowing an Iraqi terror state continue breathing, Lieberman defended the Bush administration against the charges of politicizing the war: "I don't want to assume a president as commander in chief would take action relating to war — the lives of Americans — for political reasons. I reject that."

So as Blair, who is "getting into what they describe as serious trouble with the British electorate" according to Gore, is busying himself with the distinctly non-politicized task of security, Daschle and Gore are battling for the presidential nomination of Democratic Party.

While Daschle and Gore stump for votes, Bush deftly builds a coalition, ('coalition' does not mean a unanimous U.N. vote, as some leftists might think), and garners support for a congressional resolution for a preemptive strike against Iraq. Steps that Democrats had fervently requested just a month ago.

What about proof? As if there wasn't enough yet, on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice said al Qaeda operatives have found refuge in Baghdad, and accused Saddam Hussein's regime of helping Osama bin Laden followers develop chemical weapons. Rice said there were contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented and that "there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here."

As Democrats run out of excuses, we have to wonder what their motivations truly are. Trent Lott asks: "Who is the enemy here, the president of the United States or Saddam Hussein?" Unfortunately, to men like Gore and Daschle, the answer may not be obvious.


David Harsanyi is an NYC-based writer. Visit his website (http://dharsanyi.blogspot.com/) or email him at david_harsanyi@yahoo.com.


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