If you read Ted Kennedy�s speech on Thursday, you�ll see all the things you�ve come to expect of Democrat speeches. Beginning with the first word, proceeding to the last one and reading everything in between, you see what emerges as a compelling argument, or at least, an argument that on the surface looks compelling. To those inclined to agree with the Senator, a viable excuse is offered to hop on his bandwagon. We have 157,000 troops in Iraq, and that�s what we had in Vietnam in 1965 when the trouble was still ahead of us. Who can doubt, then, that Iraq is another Vietnam? Or at least, that the situation is in dire danger of degenerating into a repeat of the episode 35 years ago.
It is typical of the best Democrat speeches. Like the argument from a sixteen-year-old about why he should borrow the car for his date, it nails each and every one of the facts that support the proposal, carefully avoiding the facts that would cause it some logical trouble.
Those in favor of seeing our operations through to the end have seized, rightfully so, on the message this would give to the terrorists that our media outlets popularly call �insurgents�. Ted Kennedy, they say, has just put a bulls-eye on the back of each soldier we have out there. I agree.
Neal Boortz has gotten particularly nasty, comparing Kennedy�s �cut and run� message to his actions in Chappaquiddick in the summer of 1969. His rejoinder is abusive, gratuitous and something of a stretch. But I�m for it. Neal�s right; there is a terribly disturbing parallel here � a reluctance to do what is difficult, dangerous, uncomfortable, right just and good � and you�d better believe there�d be Democrats pointing it out if a Republican was in Ted Kennedy�s shoes.
We can argue about whether Kennedy is correct about where Iraq is headed. Absolutely we can, and that�s the point isn�t it? It is not beyond reasonable debate, nor can it ever be, that Mary Jo Kopechne was still alive when Kennedy cut & ran. Who has the right viewpoint? Who is championing the �right� facts and promoting the �right� theories? We get to pick it by which party label we individually choose to support, just as we�d root for our favorite teams at a football game. That is the nature of the argument that Kennedy has chosen to start, and I�ve got to believe a smart guy like the Senator chose to make it go that way on purpose.
But the real �ouch� comes from the �Best of the Web� column that appeared the following day, by Opinion Journal editor James Taranto, who compares some of the things Ted Kennedy has to say with some of the things Jack Kennedy had to say. Taranto�s remarks form a good lesson: When comparisons are little more than matters of opinion, and when the facts are disputed and proof is lacking, our paths can be lit by an examination of the spirit in our leaders and what those leaders say. Even Ted Kennedy�s most loyal followers will acknowledge this. Asked to name the highlights of Ted�s 42 years in our Congress, they�ll go into the tag �em and bag �em Robin Hood schemes stealing money from our most productive citizens and giving the bounty to others. �Worked hard� is a phrase that no doubt would pepper the accolades, as would the word �provide�. They�ll ascribe positive attributes to the Massachusetts hero, attributes more logically bestowed upon those who actually earned the money.
But in twenty years or so, Kennedy supporters are highly unlikely to point out �he gave a speech that said we should get out of Iraq.� They�ll happily talk about Jack�s challenge to land on the moon. Linking Thursday�s �Get Out� speech to that grand vision of 44 years ago, even as a footnote, would be a highly implausible exercise. It doesn�t fit. One speech says, �Do�, and another speech says, �Don�t�.
Speaking for myself, I�m proud to be an American. I�m not proud to be a citizen of a country that doesn�t do things; I�m proud to be part of a country that does.
And this is why Ted Kennedy�s party got spanked so badly in the elections. The �big middle� of the American electorate sees we have a problem: Crazy middle-eastern men are out there, trying to kill us. Republicans don�t only see this problem; �neutral� people and apathetic people, moderate liberals see this problem.
A leader, who recognizes a problem, solves it, starting by forming a vision. Say what you want about George W. Bush�s plans, but he has a vision. Democrats seem to be laboring under the assumption that this is something that has not inflamed the passions of the �big middle� and they can distract us from it. They can talk about what Bush is doing wrong. They can imply that September 11 was just a fluke and will never happen again, or that we �deserved� the attacks. They can indulge in legal flim-flammery, implying that the terrorists are entitled to fundamental rights as our prisoners that, in reality, have little to do with them.
But to solve the problem, Bush has proposed that we neutralize the threat. That may offend the dickens out of those who have subscribed, since the Earl Warren years, to the school of thought that crooks are always innocent and cops always lie. But it�s a vision. When a candidate with a vision runs against a candidate without one, it is highly unusual for the latter to prevail.
Apart from the truly �safe� seats in our national congress and our state legislatures, Democrats will never win a single election until they come up with a vision of their own.
Some Democrats think Ted Kennedy delivered another �rousing� speech that makes plain & clear how they can get back into power. I hope they go right on thinking that. Until the Democrat party goes the way of the Whig party.