THE SPINE JANUARY 16, 2008
Noam observes in his "Vegas Debate" on The Stump this morning that Hillary has "put her Iraq problems behind her." But the fact is that all the candidates have tried to --all the Democratic candidates, that is. So what does this demonstrate? Some common act of free will among the Democrats? Absolutely not. They try not to talk about Iraq because, when they do, it reminds voters of the competitive hysteria among them as to who would pull our troops out fastest. Fast, fast, fast, not fast enough.Of course, amidst the rancor that has emerged between Clinton and Obama, there has "been sparring about their records on Iraq with the former alleging the latter has exaggerated his unsullied record of opposition to it since 2002, and the latter accusing the former of 're-writing history'." This is from a very smart article by Edward Luce in today's Financial Times: "The unexpected in Iraq has thrown the candidates off balance -except for McCain."The candidates are, so-to-speak, locked into the Iraq debate by left-wing party activists. But the relative success of the surge has pulled the factual basis for the fracas from under them.The best evidence for the success of the surge and the improvement in the military and civilian circumstances is that the Democratic aspirants are not themselves eager to be caught opining on the war. Sometimes they can't help themselves, and this will not help whichever wins the nomination when the voters go to the polls.