The Wall Street Journal’s ace columnist Daniel Henninger says that Iraq is not the hot political topic it was before Petraeus spoke this week. So whither?
As a political debate, the Iraq war has been drained. There’s not much more to get out of it. The hearings proved that. The one fresh, forward-moving issue that emerged from the hearings, raised by Joe Lieberman, was whether we should crack back at Iran (or Syria), which is costing American lives in Iraq. But for Democrats, this subject is off the table. So what does that leave them for the next 14 months? Are they going to bet the ranch on Iraq being in flames next fall? Most likely, it won’t be. If Iraq gradually improves, most Americans will be relieved or rejoice. If Net-rooted Democratic candidates can’t bring themselves to do that, they need to change the subject.
There is one campaignable question begging for an answer: Was the Iraq war worth it? It’s a legitimate question. Democrats, notably Hillary Clinton, have said Iraq distracted us from the global war on terror. Nothing would be more useful for our politics than that these presidential candidates should debate what they would do to contain Islamic terrorism.