Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reality Calls

Interesting. President Bush is wasting no time in accepting the realities of life with a Democratic House. I've been watching cable news this morning, and the first thing that jumped out at me was the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, and Bush's acceptance of that resignation. President Bush has already announced the man he wants to replace Rumsfeld, former CIA Director Robert Gates. An interesting choice, since it could put an emphasis upon the intelligence end of the prosecution of the war. Gates has also been serving on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, a group Democrats have said they wanted to influence the direction the country takes in Iraq in future decision making. That makes it less likely they will object to Gates' confirmation.

With Rumsfeld's exit, the President has now given the Democratic leadership the primary thing they said they wanted regarding Iraq upon coming into power. It's an interesting decision. Bush has almost preemptively taken away the first excuse the Democrats would have used for failing to make progress on Iraq, and might, by this move, have almost forced them to engage in bi-partisan efforts to win the war, rather than cut and run. On some levels, it's a shame. Rumsfeld has served well, and been unfairly condemned by a slanted media and a politically motivated Democratic minority. However, in the interest of reaching out to the people with whom he now has to work, it is an astute move by the President if he wants to continue to move in the direction of staying till the job is done in Iraq.

Democrats might be more likely to be constructive on the war front now that they have a much larger measure of power. Most of them, at least the ones I've heard this morning, including Speaker Presumptive Nancy Pelosi, are aware that they will now be held accountable for their actions over the next two years; they can't just criticize anymore. They wanted power and now they've got it. People will be watching what they do with it. I've also heard Democrats saying this morning that they know that the American people don't just want to abandon Iraq, and that it would be a mistake on many levels for us to just walk away, rather than fix what's wrong. Good. Maybe if they have to be the ones coming up with solutions, instead of complaining from the sidelines, the more reasonable among them might proffer some actual positive approaches.

One other thing that comes to mind is that this war might become easier to prosecute with the Dems more engaged, simply because the media will not be as inclined to reflexively focus on the negative. The New York Times might actually find incidents of progress to report if Democrats have something to do with that progress. I truly believe that many of the problems we have had as the war has progressed have sprung from the media undermining the war effort, which has played a major part in the lack of public support for the war. I am firmly convinced that, if the terrorist and insurgent elements in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, as well as everyday Iraqi citizens, believed without a doubt that America was solidly united in common purpose, despite political differences, we would be seeing much more progress and cooperation from people in the ME--many of whom are now afraid to throw their lot in with democracy, for fear democracy will fail, the U.S. will leave, and they will be abandoned to face Islamist wrath. Perhaps (and I acknowledge it is a "perhaps" of limited promise), if the Democrats in Congress can find it in themselves to work toward complete victory in Iraq, the media can find it in themselves to acknowledge that victory, and not sabotage it from the outset.

I say, give the Dems all the credit they want, let them bask in the glow of their own virtue, merit and superior answers, just let Iraq be a free and peaceful nation at the end of the day. President Bush, by this change in his Cabinet, is doing what he can to make that possible. Reality is calling. I hope the Democrats respond in kind.