A few war opponents on the left know Howard Dean goofed with his we can't "win the war" line -- read here, for example. Dean's remark allowed the White House and "hacks" to frame the debate between those who want to pursue victory and those (like Dean) who are conceding defeat. The trick for Democrats now, the argument goes, is to repackage their withdrawal demand as a necessary strategy for stabilizing Iraq. Frederick Kagan and Sen. McCain explain why such a strategy would not work here and here. But even if one dismisses them as partisans, it will be tough sledding convincing the public that the war's opponents have the winning strategy when the folks at the Democratic Leadership Council are writing stuff like this in reaction to Rep. Pelosi's withdrawal comments:
Demands for an immediate troop withdrawal or arbitrary deadlines risk turning premature declarations that the United States has failed in Iraq into a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is why Democrats must reject them.
If our forces leave before the Iraqis can defend themselves, the result will be a national security disaster for the United States. Iraq will be convulsed into full-scale civil war that could provoke a regional conflagration. The Sunni triangle will likely become home base for the global jihad network, a safe haven for hatching new terrorist plots against our country and our friends. America will once again have broken faith with Iraq's long-suffering Kurds and Shi'a, and the cause of Arab democracy will be set back for a generation.
Democrats would be better off following the lead of the DLC, but the heart of the party believes in Dean and made him chairman -- and now they're stuck with him.