Dean's Delayed Day

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 8, 2005; 11:54 AM

It's taken awhile, but the Democrats' position on the war has finally hit the front pages.

Well, of The Post , anyway.

When Howard Dean says we're not gonna win in Iraq and the paper uses a short wire story--and then comes back with a front-pager about the Democrats fearing a backlash--it's a tacit acknowledgment of having blown it the first time.

That piece yesterday also made much of Nancy Pelosi backing a pullout. I never understood why Pelosi's flip-flop (she was against Murtha's proposal before she was for it) wasn't bigger news. She's the House minority leader! If she's speaking for her caucus--and she claims more than half of House Democrats support her position--that's a sea change in the opposition party's stance. If she's way out in front of her troops, the party is in considerable disarray. Either way, the emerging views of Democratic leaders on the most divisive issue in America deserves a bigger ride, as conservative bloggers have been quick to point out.

Orlando Sentinel columnist Kathleen Parker makes this very case:

"Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, Murtha, (Lieberman), Murtha, Murtha, Murtha.

"That's about how news coverage has gone the past several weeks concerning Rep. John Murtha's call to withdraw from Iraq versus Sen. Joe Lieberman's call to stand fast.

"And the media wonder why newspaper circulations are dropping and why Fox News dominates television ratings over the networks and other cable programs. It's not that Murtha doesn't deserve airtime to voice a point of view many Americans share. It's that Lieberman surely deserves at least equal time for a point of view that other Americans, as well as most Iraqis, share.

"Those who rely on traditional news sources other than The Wall Street Journal, which published an op-ed by the Connecticut senator, may not even have known that Lieberman recently returned from Iraq. Or that his conclusions were that the U.S. has to keep fighting the insurgency, and that two-thirds of Iraq is in 'pretty good shape.' You don't have to be a partisan war hawk to see the difference in treatment of these two stories, from news reports to the talking-head shows."

Ed Morrissey , writing in the Weekly Standard, sees a suicide strategy:

"The good news for the Democrats is that their leadership has settled on an electoral strategy for 2006. The bad news is that they have cribbed their game plan from one of the most disastrous campaigns in their history. The Democratic leadership has decided to elevate surrender to a party platform for the upcoming elections, with their national chairman, House leader, and last presidential nominee all running up the white flag as the Democratic war banner.

"When was the last time that an entire political party stood for backpedaling the way the Democrats have in the past two weeks? Since Rep. John Murtha made his supposedly stunning announcement that he wanted an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, the Democrats have embraced surrender.

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