American politics are at a tipping point. Since the Reagan era, Republicans have claimed to be the national security Party, labeled Democrats "liberal pacifists," and garnered the votes of most of America's military. At long last, public perception is changing. The debate over Iraq gives Democrats a golden opportunity to take back the mantle of national security. The pivotal issue is which Party truly supports our troops.
After 9/11, believing the US was at war, Americans pledged allegiance to the Commander-in-chief. There was a shift away from democratic process towards authoritarian rule: President Bush was both popular and above the law. However, four years of a tragically mismanaged occupation, accompanied by continued evidence of the President's domestic incompetence, changed America's perception of Bush and his Party. As Americans lost confidence in George Bush's leadership, they also stopped trusting Republicans on national security and stopped believing they've kept the US safe.
The November 7th elections were a referendum on Bush's Administration, as well as his complacent Republican House and Senate. Now the Democratically-controlled Congress has begun to reassert its authority to oversee conduct of the Iraq war. Central to this debate is Bush's judgement: whether he conducted the campaign in a sensible manner, made wise decisions that honor the lives and safety of our troops. It's too simplistic to characterize the adversaries in this debate as Republicans and Democrats. Rather the argument is between those who advocate blind allegiance to the White House-Lieberman and McCain-and those who maintain Congress must ensure that our troops are fully supported-Hagel, Murtha, and Pelosi.
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