One of the most intriguing aspects of the Democratic debate last night (aside from the personal dynamics) was that none of the candidates seemed to have heard about the improvements in Iraq. They were stuck in the time warp when the media was able to find footage at least one incendiary scene daily for the evening news. But things have changed.

“WILL ANY OF the Democratic candidates be able to summon the courage to concede an American victory in Iraq?” was the question posed earlier in the week in the Weekly Standard by James W. Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia and coauthor, most recently, of Red over Blue: The 2004 Elections and American Politics.

Well, not last night. But what if we have a Democratic president and both houses of Congress go Democratic? Will they then snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?…

“More plausibly, if victory is near, could the new president proclaim it and cement its benefits for America’s future strategic role? Could the new president suspend his or her disbelief and accord the full measure of praise to a general who had saved the day? Could that president give full honor to the American troops, not just for their service–that’s always easy–but for their achievement in winning. Could that president show up on an Army bases and declare, in full-throated pride, well-done and mission accomplished?”

A defeat in Iraq would begin the process of a slow (if we are lucky) decline of American power. It would be all the more tragic if we were winning at the time of surrender.