The Magazine

Not So Innocents Abroad

Oct 14, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 05 • By DAVID TELL, FOR THE EDITORS
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Come to think of it, they've gotten off relatively easy here at home, too, bad reviews from the talk shows and people like McCain to the contrary notwithstanding. The White House, widely assumed to be on watch for any hint of Democratic resistance to war with Iraq, and eager to use it as partisan ammunition in the coming midterm elections, has largely declined to comment on, much less criticize, either man. And the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill, as recently as two weeks ago ferociously indignant over any suggestion that home-team spirit against the Iraqi regime might be lacking in its ranks, has uttered nary a peep about Bonior and McDermott--who say the home team is guilty of infanticide, among other things.

The Bush administration makes a wise choice to remain silent here, we think; Bonior and McDermott do not deserve the dignity of presidential notice. But the Democratic party makes a mistake, and does itself a disservice, by continued reluctance publicly to discipline these, its very wayward lambs. Granted, arriving at a coherent position, yea or nay, on the president's Iraq policy has proved a tricky political problem for Democrats, one they have notably failed to solve. But nervous bewilderment does not constitute disloyalty; no one can fairly say that the Democratic party has apologized for Saddam Hussein. David Bonior and Jim McDermott are freaks. They do not speak for their party. And their party, it seems to us, should say so.

--David Tell, for the Editors