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In my latest Daily Standard column, I argue that the Democrats have in their desperation finally come up with a war strategy -- only they had to reach back 140 years to find it. "Rally Round the (White) Flag, Boys!" notes the discomforting and embarrassing similarities of the Democrats' current stance on the war in Iraq and their take on the Civil War in 1864:
Not even during the Vietnam War did a major American party position itself to support abject retreat as a wartime political platform. For that, one has to go back to the Civil War, when the Democrats demanded a negotiated peace with the Confederate States of America and a withdrawal from the South. Celebrating the popularity of former General George McClellan, who had come from the battlefield to represent a party whose platform demanded a negotiated settlement (which McClellan later disavowed), the Confederates assumed that the war could be over within days of McClellan's presumed victory over the controversial and hated Abraham Lincoln. Even some Republicans began to question whether Lincoln should stand for reelection--until Sherman took Atlanta and exposed McClellan as a defeatist and an incompetent of the first order.
Murtha's demand for a pullout gave the party's leadership a chance to openly embrace defeatism, much as McClellan did for Northern Democrats in 1864, using McClellan's field experience for the credibility to argue that the American Army could not hope to defeat the enemy it faced.
The column recounts the hysteria and confusion among Democrats over the past few days, especially the declaration of defeat made by Democratic Party chair Howard Dean as an argument to elect more Democrats. The result is the adoption of the white flag as a party banner. The title of this post, however, refers to an old joke about a remarkably successful military commander who demanded his red shirt whenever he went into battle so that his men would not get demoralized if he was wounded and started to bleed. I'll leave it to CQ readers to figure out why he wore the brown pants.Sphere It View blog reactions
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