Dear Husband and I were discussing this very question the other day:
Why do the Democratic candidates refuse to acknowledge progress in Iraq?
It’s quite glaring, in fact, and I’m glad WaPo has brought the issue into the light of day. Unfortunately, I think this blogger articulates some of the answer:
Obama won because of liberals and progressives. I guarantee that New Hampshire exit polls will show exactly the same thing. Hopefully, once they do, the liberal and progressive core of Obama’s coalition is something people will start to acknowledge.
There’s rather more behind Obama’s astounding popularity and early win than liberal / progressive support, and obviously his campaign sees that (even if the hard left will not). But at the moment, no candidate can afford to alienate “the base”. Nominees are not vying for the presidency yet (no matter how excited people are getting); they’re working toward their respective party nominations.
And if the Democratic “base” does not see improvement in Iraq — or at least is not acknowledging it — then a candidate would have to be willing to risk that support.
The underlying problem, though, goes beyond the unacknowledged relative reduction in violence in Iraq. The reality of Iraq is that whatever the conditions are today, they will be different when the President-elect takes office a year from now, and anything said to placate a base — or any group, for that matter — is likely to be moot.
Myself, I’d be very impressed with any Democratic candidate who had the gumption to admit that.
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Added: As pointed out in the comments, the Wall Street Journal has an editorial on this subject today, also. If I were a Democratic candidate, though, I’d be far more worried about WaPo’s criticism.
Also — Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard is exactly right: the media owns a fair share of this problem. Furthermore, the relative silence in recent months has only compounded the situation. If WaPo truly thinks the candidates should come out of denial, they (and other mainstream media outlets) might consider covering the current realities as fully as they did the earlier chaos and horror.