That didn't take long. Proving that power corrupts quickly, Democrats are veering off course before they even formally control Congress. Their claims of a mandate to bring the troops home from Iraq are both false and dangerous.
New leaders in the House and Senate apparently can't stand the suspense of pretending to be responsible moderates. Throwing good sense out the window, they're stampeding the exits even before we see the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi made her first mistake with her first decision - backing Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha as her deputy. Murtha's reputation for corruption is exceeded only by his reckless call for immediate withdrawal of our troops. When he raised that idea last year, he got support only from Pelosi and a few others. Time has not improved her judgment.
The Senate is no better. Michigan's Carl Levin is so eager to make the Armed Services Committee more important than the White House that he's got his own plan for ending the war. Dragging out the left's favorite euphemism for surrender, "phased redeployment," Levin plans a bill that would force President Bush to start moving U.S. forces out in four to six months. "The point," he said, was to tell the Iraqis "that they are going to have to solve their own problems."
He also said the move "would be a reflection of the people's voice as expressed" in the election.
Whopper Alert. First, Dems didn't run on promising to pull the troops out, so it's a big fat lie for them to claim that's why they were elected. They ran almost exclusively on criticizing Bush's handling of the war, not on alternative ideas. If you want a mandate, you have to lay out a plan before the election.
As New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told me: "I'd say 65 percent of the vote was a rejection of Bush's stay-the-course plan and 35 percent were voting to take a chance on Democrats."
Second, the public didn't vote against the war itself but against its failures.
Growing disillusionment reflects the mayhem and American casualties, which have become litmus tests for whether the war was a good idea.
A series of Gallup polls tells the tale. At the time of the March 2003 invasion, public approval stood at 75 percent, with 23 percent saying the war was wrong.
A year later, as the insurgency was growing, 57 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved. Two bloody years after the invasion, in April 2005, the approve/disapprove numbers were almost even. Before last week's election, only 40 percent said the war was a good idea and 55 percent called it a mistake.
Yet disapproving of how the war is going is different from demanding an immediate end. Most polls on that question show ambivalence, with Americans frustrated but realizing that chaos and slaughter would follow if we left before Iraq is stable.
That was the whole point behind Congress and Bush creating the Iraq Study Group. It was a recognition that our policies aren't working and that we need fresh ideas. It was why Bush sacked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - to get "fresh eyes." For Dems to pre-empt that process by demanding a quick withdrawal would trash the chance for a bipartisan approach and reignite the divisions elections are supposed to heal.
It is often said that the key to a stable Iraq is a political settlement there.
Before we demand that of the Iraqis, we must be able to meet that same standard here.