At a time when public opinion polls are starting to show that the economy is becoming a bigger concern than Iraq, there is Krondacke's question.
For sure, the surge is working militarily -- U.S. deaths are down 80 percent; civilian deaths, 75 percent; car bombs and suicide attacks, 60 percent. Al-Qaida terrorists are on the run. Iraqi security forces have expanded by 100,000 and are now in charge of half of Iraq's provinces.Of course, this is a predicatable "moving of the goal posts" that is common in Democratic rhetoric, but it still avoids the question, why won't they talk about the success of the surge?
Politically, there is progress, too, especially at the provincial level. Former Sunni insurgents are cooperating with the United States and Sunni politicians may rejoin the national government. Shiite militants have declared a cease-fire.
The civil war has largely stopped. No national oil revenue law has been passed, but oil revenues are being shared. And Iraq's parliament has passed a law allowing former Baath Party members to collect pensions and serve in the government.
It's not victory. Political progress is slow. But Iraq is heading in the right direction. U.S. forces might have to stay for 10 years more -- but, eventually, as peacekeepers, not combatants, as in Korea and Kosovo. Instead of suffering a huge strategic loss, the United States would have shown it has tenacity, altering its image in the world.
Democrats, however, insist on minimizing the success and advocating early timetables for full withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.
The Democratic line now is that it was to be expected that adding American troops would have a military impact -- not that they argued that a year ago -- but that political progress won't occur until the U.S. announces definitively that it's leaving.
Fear is one reason. With the economy growing as a concern, the Democrats feel they may be on better turf for them. If the focus of the campaign is on Iraq, then the Democrats would eventually have to posit a plan for what they would do, besides bring the troops home (which Congressional Democrats have been shockingly unable to do). That means a plan to appeal both to their base (the quit-ocrats) and to middle America who generally don't want us to leave a job undone.
But if they are talking economic policies, the Democrats have concrete proposals to put forward. They argue that the GOP plans don't do enough for middle America or the poor (despite evidence to the contrary).