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Jewish World Review April 16, 2003 / 14 Nisan, 5763

Betsy Hart

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Secure with Dems? | Watching scenes of Iraqi citizens wildly cheering their liberators - coalition forces in Baghdad - I realize my liberal friends are going completely nuts.

It's wasn't supposed to be this way. After all, Isn't America the world's "Imperial oppressor?" Hmm. Guess not.

But worse for my liberal friends, these scenes are not some phenomenon we will forget about in six months. They have huge implications for our politics here at home.

More than anything else, these pictures remind us that Democrats cannot be trusted with our national security. (Though it was not the case early in the Cold War, these days, at least when talking about our Congress, the terms "liberal' and "Democrat" have become interchangeable.)

For at least 30 years, it's been clear that Democrats would not stand up to the world on behalf of America's freedom.

Whatever one thinks of the Vietnam war, who doesn't cringe when reminded that 1972's Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern, said that he would "crawl to Hanoi" to end it? Richard Nixon, of course, won that election in a spectacular landslide. The only reason Jimmy Carter was elected four years later is because of the Watergate scandal. Under Carter's watch, we saw one country after another overrun by the Soviet Union, and of course American hostages taken in Tehran.

For 12 years Americans would not allow another Democrat to be in charge of our foreign policy.

When they finally let one back into the White House in 1992, it was only because Reagan had ended the Cold War. There was a sense that the world wasn't so dangerous, the stakes were "not as high" anymore, and we could afford to risk putting a Democrat in the White House after the first George Bush reneged on his anti-tax pledge.

But with the War on Terror, including the necessity of going into Iraq, we've been reminded that the "stakes" may be higher than ever. And that leaves Democrat contenders for the White House in trouble.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, aspiring presidential candidate, said one week ago on the House floor, "This war is killing our troops. This war is killing innocent Iraqi civilians. This war must end now. It was unjust when it started two weeks ago, and is still unjust today. The U.S. should get out now and try to save the lives of American troops and Iraqi citizens."


Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, another who wants to be president, was and is utterly opposed to U.S.-led military action in Iraq. He stands by the authority of the United Nations to have determined our action there. Not a winning campaign theme with most Americans right now.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who served with great distinction in Vietnam, said on the eve of our entry into Baghdad that it was the United States that needed "regime change." Note to John, get a new speechwriter. The line wasn't even original.

Tom Daschle, Democrat leader of the Senate, just hours before the war began, said, "I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. . .saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."

The cheering Iraqis don't seem to think it was so critical.

It's true that some members of Congress running for president, notably Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., Joe Lieberman, D-Ct., and John Edwards, D-N.C., have at times sounded downright hawkish about the war. But we've heard from them virtually no praise of the spectacularly successful prosecution of the war since it began. Why? Because hard-core, antiwar Leftists dominate the Democratic primaries. And with those primaries set to kick off in less than a year, these guys know they have to start catering to that crowd now. Yet, polls consistently show that overwhelmingly, Americans trust Republicans over Democrats with our national security. Meaning these guys are in a quandary.

It's not that George W. Bush can't lose the next election. But his father lost after a relatively successful first Gulf War only because the American people did not perceive Saddam, or terrorism in general, as a threat then to the United States. Since September 11, 2001, that perception has entirely, and rightly, changed.

Some folks might argue that now is not the time to talk about domestic politics. But that caution would come largely from those who don't want to admit the truth: that Americans again realize that the world is, in fact, a very dangerous place. And that spells big trouble for Democrats.

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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