In a long and rambling New Yorker piece comparing Joe Biden to John Kerry, writer Jeffrey Goldberg says,
Most national-security Democrats believe that the Party’s problems on the issue go deeper than marketing. They agree that the Party should be more open to the idea of military action, and even preëmption; and although they did not agree about the timing of the Iraq war and the manner in which Bush launched it, they believe that the stated rationale—Saddam’s brutality and his flouting of United Nations resolutions—was ideologically and morally sound. They say that the absence of weapons of mass destruction was more a failure of intelligence than a matter of outright deception by the Administration; and although they do not share the neoconservatives’ enthusiastic belief in the transformative power of military force, they accept the possibility that the invasion of Iraq might lead to the establishment of democratic institutions there.
The problem for these “national security Democrats” is, of course, that they can’t really say any of those things in public. If they did, they’d lose the MooreOn Left, as illustrated in the article by many extremely stupid quotes from Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, and MoveOn yahoo Eli Pariser.
That’s the Democratic Party dilemma. The office holders who are intellectually honest enough to view the terrorist and Islamofascist threat with some degree of objectivity (or even those who’d just like to look tougher for political reasons) can’t break away from the blame-America Left, even rhetorically. They’d lose too many dollars and too many votes–just ask Joe Lieberman, who’s also quoted in the New Yorker piece.
I don’t know how (or if) they can get out of that particular Catch-22, but using recent history as a comparison, I’m guessing the Democrats may have to wait for a general and widely-accepted peace to prevail before they’re trusted with Presidential power again. That worked for Clinton in the wake of the Cold War (I doubt that he would have been elected had the Soviets still been around), but as in the case of that long conflict, it may be a very long time before there’s another national concensus regarding war and peace.