Rush Limbaugh declared Monday that Democrats are "unqualified to lead the nation" because they've been "proven wrong about the war in Iraq." "We cannot allow them off the hook on this," Limbaugh said. "We cannot allow history to be rewritten."
No, we can't.
Limbaugh said the Democrats are engaged in a "total shift," and are now trying to "hammer" the importance of "political gains" in Iraq -- or the lack thereof -- over the "military successes" there. The reality, of course, is exactly the opposite: Those who would emphasize "military successes" over the lack of "political gains" are the ones making the shift.
Limbaugh says he has "books full" of the Democrats' "predictions and defeatist comments." "We have audio sound bites from our archives that do the same thing," he says. As it turns out, we've got a few of our own.
Here's George W. Bush at a Cabinet meeting in February: "What we're trying to do with this reinforcement of our troops is to provide enough space so that the Iraqi government can meet certain benchmarks or certain requirements for a unity government to survive and for the country to be strong. The success of that plan is going to depend upon the capacity and willingness of the Iraqis to do hard work, and we want to help them do that work."
Here's Gen. David Petraeus in April: "Success will take continued commitment, perseverance and sacrifice, all to make possible an opportunity for the all-important Iraqi political actions that are the key to long-term solutions to Iraq's many problems ... Success, in the end, will depend on Iraqi actions ... Military action is necessary but not sufficient. We can provide the Iraqis an opportunity but they will have to exploit it."
And here's ambassador Ryan Crocker in May: "There's a real danger that if the Iraqi people, if those involved in Iraqi politics don't sense that things are moving forward, there's a danger that things will move back, that the centrifugal forces start to take hold again; that, no one wants to see ... That's why we need movement, that's why Iraqis need movement. We need it in the near-term ... I would say it's months, yes ... Without some sense by the American people that things are moving forward again, over the period of the next several months, it's going to be very hard to sustain the kind of support that Iraq really needs."
Months? Six of them have passed since Crocker uttered those words, and still the Bush administration is saying pretty much exactly the same thing. "If we can show progress outside of the security sector alone," a senior U.S. official told the New York Times the other day, "that will go a long way to demonstrate that we are in fact on a sustainable path to stability in Iraq."
The operative word there -- as it always has been -- is "if." If the Iraqi government starts meeting the benchmarks it set for itself, then maybe we can start talking about how the Democrats were wrong about the "surge." Until then, it's a little premature for Rush or anyone else on the right to be gloating; the last time we checked, 63 percent of the American public still thought that, all things considered, going to war in Iraq wasn't worth it.
But hope strings eternal, especially when it's all you've got. Rudy Giuliani told the New Hampshire Union Leader Monday that he has "never had any doubt" that invading Iraq was the right idea, that he's "even more certain" now about that than ever before, and that by time the 2008 election rolls around, "Democrats are going to agree with me on that."