On Iraq, Democrats are offering a clear and unified message

A front page Post piece offers a lot to chew on:

"Most Democratic candidates in competitive congressional races are opposed to setting a timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, rejecting pressure from liberal activists to demand a quick end to the three-year-old military conflict.

Of the 59 Democrats in hotly contested House and Senate races, a majority agree with the Bush administration that it would be unwise to set a specific schedule for troop withdrawal, and only a few are calling for substantial troop reductions to begin this year, according to a Washington Post survey of the campaigns.

The large number of Democrats opposed to a strict timeline for ending the military operations runs contrary to the assertion by President Bush and top Republicans that Democrats want to "cut and run" amid mounting casualties and signs of civil war. At the same time, the decision by many Democrats to refrain from advocating a specific plan for withdrawal complicates their leaders' efforts to convince voters that they offer a clear new direction for the increasingly unpopular war."

Lets look at that last graph.  I agree with the first sentence.  Given how unpopular the war has become, the only strategy Republicans now have is 1) change their position on the war as Chris Shays just did; 2) argue that Democrats would make it worse.  I still believe both from a governing and public opinion standpoint a timetable for withdrawal is not the best option on the table.  So I think those Democrats who are rejecting "strategic redeployment" will be well served this fall, and will make it much harder for the GOP to succeed at their "cut and run" campaign. 

But I do not in any way agree with the 2nd part of the graph.  Democrats have presented a united front - we are unhappy with what is happening in Iraq, and want a new course.  Some want strategic redeployment.  Others don't.  There is no simple solution to what's happening in the Middle East, and we are doing the right thing by forcing a public and spirited debate.  Only from that debate will we settle on the best course.

While we may not agree on the details, the Democratic message is clear and simple - we want a new path in the Middle East, and once in power, will be sitting down with the President to find a new American strategy for success in the troubled region.  This position is both the responsible one, and the clear winner in terms of public opinion. 

For more, see my recent appearance on Fox News Sunday.