What Are the Troops Thinking? And the Dems?

ByABC News

Nov. 8, 2006 — -- The results of Tuesday's voting must come as a shock to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.

The Democratic sweep puts anti-war extremists in charge of the House and the Senate, and seems certain to presage a replay of the Vietnam experience of 32-plus years ago.

The difference between January 1975 and January 2007 will be in the presidency. George W. Bush will not acquiesce in a retreat from the front lines in the war against Islamic fascism, but the looming battles on the Hill will be watched closely by the troops.

"Will we be piloting helicopters from the roof of our embassy?" these young men and women have to be asking.

That question and many similar ones must also be on the minds of the senior brass who no doubt can recall the devastation on the military that retreat from Vietnam inaugurated.

So will we cut and run?

I don't think so, because Bush is not in political trouble as Gerald Ford was in 1974. Bush has lost his congressional majorities, but only narrowly, and the tactics that his political opponents deployed against him over the last two years can now be employed by his congressional allies against the Democratic leadership of Congress.

It takes 60 Senate votes to send a bill to the president. Expect a leaner, meaner GOP Senate caucus to refuse to cooperate in a retreat from Iraq.

If the 49 Senate Republicans stay strong, so will our commitment to Iraq.

And it must. Quitting Iraq means a radicalized state that will quickly become as dangerous as Saddam Hussein's was.

Iran is rushing toward nukes, and al Qaeda long ago began relocation of some of its assets to Iraq. To retreat now would be to invite a devastating attack on the United States in the near future.

Democrats are patriots -- they will not require the country to expose itself to the radicals' destructive dreams.

The cut-and-run rhetoric was a good political posture, but would be a disaster of the first order if implemented.

There are enough responsible Democrats to oblige House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi to concede that the war is the president's to conduct.

With the majority comes responsibility.

Most Democrats celebrating this week were in the House and Senate on Sept. 11, 2001, when jihadists aimed to kill them all.

With the majority comes responsibility for the country's defense.

That responsibility should have a sobering effect.

We can hope that Joe Lieberman's decisive triumph in Connecticut and the arrival of some traditionalist Democrats means the rebirth of the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democrats.

And we can also hope that the GOP caucus in the House and in the Senate puts a premium on the election of leaders who are superb communicators, not with the caucus members, but the public.

The most important constituency with whom they must communicate are the troops who are wondering what Tuesday night meant to their mission.

Firmness of purpose and a refusal to allow the new majorities to force a retreat are the key messages the new GOP leadership must convey.

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