The Washington Post puts on the top left of its front page Monday reporter Robin Wright's story that "among the Democratic foreign-policy elite...there are stark differences -- and significant vagueness -- about a viable alternative" to ending the Iraq war successfully. "In interviews, veteran policymakers offered no end of criticism" of Bush's handling, "but only one had a clear vision of what he would do if the Iraq problem was handed over to a Democratic administration tomorrow." The Post headline: "Democrats Find Iraq Alternative Is Elusive." A better headline: "Democrats Have No Plan."
"I'm not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy," said Richard Holbrooke, "widely considered the leading candidate to be secretary of state" if Kerry had won the presidency in 2004. "It 's not something you can expet in a situation that's moving this fast and has the level of detail you're looking for." Translation: wooh, aren't you glad the Democrats didn't win? We'd be stuck with Unfrozen Caveman Secretary of State: the Iraqi terrorists' modern ways of war frighten and confuse him. Then turn inside.
You discover "The biggest common denominator was the anguish of trying to define a Democratic alternative." Inside you find the one man Wright defined as having a clear vision: Zbigniew Brzezinski with a Howard Deanish plan, rapid withdrawal of all forces by the end of 2006. He could have been secretary of state for President Kucinich. Oh, and more good news: one of the "rising generation" of Democratic foreign-policy experts, Derek Chollet, recommends "reverse shock and awe," or an awesomely quick surrender. He was an adviser to John Edwards. Wright's story ended perfectly: with contorted Iraq answers from Bill Clinton on CNN that ended up saying nothing.
Kudos to the Washington Post for understanding at this late date that not only should the party in power be held responsible for their proposed solutions, but the party out of power should be held responsible for their lack of proposed solutions.
UPDATE: Over on the other end of the political spectrum at Tapped, the liberal American Prospect magazine's blog, Matthew Yglesias says the Wright story captures Democratic ambivalence correctly, but he takes issue with the Wright's finding a lack of clear alternative plans.