I always knew it would come to this.
This election season has been going so well for Democrats, it was inevitable that Republicans would find themselves so pushed to the wall that any and every piece of dirt would find its way out. I particularly love the Jim Webb "dirty novel" scandal which has George Allen running against the scandal of fictional writing. There's a pressing issue no one thought of.
But even more insidious is the Republican "the sky is falling" charge that tries to rev up the urgency and scariness of potential Democratic control. It's been percolating all year, but lately, as things have looked worse and worse, it's beginning to surface. Rick Santorum has framed his final campaign push around "The Gathering Storm" which is supposed to seem Grand and Churchillian but mostly seems bombastic and overwrought.
Look, we suffered a terrible attack in 2001. It brought home the reality of terrorism and the dangers of Al-Qaeda as nothing else could, and shook us all out of a complacency that came from our tradition of isolation from the world's problems. We can't go back, and we can't pretend it never happened.
But we can put it in perspective. The terrorist threat is only part of what we face now, it is only part - and a small part - of the problems in Iraq, and it does not show either a lack of seriousness, or a misunderstanding of the issues facing us that Democrats ask reasonable questions about what we are doing in Iraq, and what we are doing, more generally to fight terrorism. There's a lot of discussion about what it takes to "win" in Iraq. The reality is that Iraq should not be cast in terms of "winning" or "losing". If we do things right - if we even knew what "right" was - the best we can get is a stable Iraq that can govern itself with its own security forces and shared government. What's more likely is a deep, difficult Civil War that we can't stop and that we should not get caught in the middle of.
I suppose one just has to accept that shrill, unpleasant rhetoric will be with us at least until next Tuesday - but these outrageous claims - that the world will end, that we are in World War IV, that terrorists will kill us all - are just the worst sort of scare-mongering. I have no doubt that for some older white men, who never envisioned this in their lifetimes, there is indeed a lot to fear. But Republicans betray that fundamental cynicism I discussed earlier with all of these charges - a belief that we can be defeated, and easily, because of a lack of resolve. I don't believe things are nearly so dire, but mostly because I happen to believe that we are right and that our promise of liberty and justice for all is the right way to govern. I have to believe that the lack of faith Republicans show in their fellow Americans will ultimately do them in - and I expect it will be this time, and not down the road.