Debbie Thompson, Chicago Republican, says her "patience for this war, it’s run out. I think this is the most expensive, stupidest thing ever done. My frustration has reached a level that is so unsettling, something has to be done."
That quote set the stage for a New York Times piece on the changing political face of the Iraq war. To make something of that change, however, is to exercise in a minefield of befuddlement.
Ms. Thompson resides in a conservative congressional district where, says the Times, "there is a newfound hostility about the war that is being directed toward [the Republican incumbent], who was narrowly re-elected to a fourth term last November....
"Interviews with voters, elected officials and others in Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania -- home to 4 of the 11 [moderate] Republican congressmen who met with Mr. Bush about the war -- suggest that more Republican voters are opposing the war, and that independents who might have voted Republican are moving toward supporting a Democrat."
That, one may think, is all well and good. Yet it comes with two gloomy by-products: The eradication of Republican moderates serves only to further radicalize the surviving GOP, and the substitution of Democratic reps from these Republican districts serves only to "conservatize" the party of New Deal heritage.
One can already hear the freshly installed Honorable Gentleman from Illinois: "Gee, I can't support this progressive cause or that -- I come from a volatile swing district and can't afford to rub the mossbacks the wrong way."
In short, turning out moderate Republicans does little or nothing for Democrats' liberalization. In fact, at best it could legislatively paralyze the Democratic Party, and at worst irreparably split it.
Then again, many would argue the party is already on the first road and has been spotted lurching precipitously down the second.
Also noted in the article was this: "While a majority of Republican voters continue to support Mr. Bush and the Iraq war ... there are concerns that the war is undermining the party’s political position. A majority of Republicans who were interviewed for a New York Times/CBS News poll this month said that things were going badly in Iraq and that Congress should allow financing only on the condition that the Iraqi government met benchmarks for progress."
What's more, "In a poll in March, a majority of Republicans said that a candidate who backed Mr. Bush’s war policies would be at a decided disadvantage in 2008. They also suggested that they were open to supporting a candidate who broke with the president on the war."
What, then, is one to make of recent polling that found Hillary Clinton losing head to head to both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani?
True, Hillary isn't her party's most high-flying dove, but she certainly doesn't bare the bellicose fangs of a McCain or Giuliani. So how -- given, in the poll, all those Democrats of nearly unanimous antiwar sentiment, a huge chunk of like-minded independents and a "majority" of war-cooling Republicans -- could Ms. Clinton possibly come out on the bottom?
The American voter has never been fairly accused of a slavish adherence to cogency, but that finding defies every breed of logic.
The conclusion to be drawn from these newsworthy tidbits is, as I referenced in opening, one of utmost befuddlement. Here we have a sea of roiling attitudinal changes all about us, yet the upshot of their repercussions will, more likely than not, signify nothing.