The president's dismal poll numbers may have Democrats feeling a little better about their electoral prospects in 2008, but news out of New York last night underscores a fact that a lot of Democrats in Washington would like to forget: Iraq is a galvanizing issue for a lot of Americans, but it's not without its complications for the opposition party.
When Cindy Sheehan spoke in Brooklyn last night, she had George W. Bush's Iraq policies centered in her sights. But along the way, Sheehan took note of the fact that Sen. Hillary Clinton voted to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq and -- like most Senate Democrats -- hasn't called on him to bring the troops home yet. "She knows that the war is a lie but she is waiting for the right time to say it," Sheehan said of Clinton. As the New York Times reports it, the crowd cheered as Sheehan said: "You say it, or you are losing your job."
There's more than a little hyperbole there: Whatever she says about Iraq, Hillary Clinton isn't at much risk of her losing her job in the U.S. Senate. But Sheehan's comments foreshadow problems Clinton -- and a lot of other Democrats -- may face in contending for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2008. While nearly 60 percent of the public disapproves of the way Bush is handling the war and thinks some or all of the U.S. troops should come home now, few Democrats in Washington have pushed hard for a specific timetable for a withdrawal. Clinton isn't among them; to the contrary, she has said that more troops may be needed before the U.S. is done in Iraq.
That may or may not be the right answer, but it's not one that's going to satisfy Sheehan or millions of other Americans who think that 1,900 dead Americans is already too high a price to pay for a war that shouldn't have been fought in the first place.