Most Democrats are rallying around President George W. Bush now that a war with Iraq is all but inevitable. Sadly, though, the Senate's minority leader, Tom Daschle, D-S.D., isn't among them.
"I'm saddened - saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're forced to go to war," said Daschle. "I'm saddened ... because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was critical for our country."
What Daschle has created is a whole new dimension for words like shameless, hypocrisy, partisanship. This political hack twice voted to give the president authority to topple Saddam Hussein - first in 1998 when Bill Clinton was commander in chief and last November under Bush.
Indeed, here's what Daschle said in '98: "Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself."
If Saddam were to persist, Daschle said then, America must launch a preemptive war. He joined 76 other senators in approving a bipartisan resolution empowering Clinton to do just that.
Then last November, in approving a like Senate resolution for Bush, Daschle noted that "Members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States ... including the attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq."
Huh? But senator, we thought there was no connection between al-Qaida and Saddam!
Daschle's own words reveal him to be a partisan hypocrite of the worst sort. And he lies when he says Bush diplomacy failed miserably. The president plowed the diplomatic ground in the United Nations for more than five months. He got unanimous approval for Security Council resolution 1441 - requiring Iraq's immediate and complete disarmament or face "serious consequences." But after that, Bush and U.S. allies were sabotaged by France's vow to veto the logical consequences of Saddam's failure to meet the terms of 1441.
Daschle, the senator from France now, has decided to pander, for whatever reason, to the anti-liberation left. And, foolishly, he says it's not unpatriotic to criticize the president in time of war.
Constructive criticism can be helpful, but if criticism is as mindless and brazenly partisan as Daschle's was - and comes on the eve of battle - it can undermine confidence in the commander in chief, as well as morale among troops abroad and citizens at home.
Maybe that's what they do in France, senator, but not here.