While they may talk big about wanting a time table to get troops out of Iraq, Democratic politicians are campaigning in the opposite direction.

Most Democratic candidates in competitive congressional races are opposed to setting a timetable for pulling US troops out of Iraq, rejecting pressure from liberal activists to demand a quick end to the three-year-old military conflict.

Of the 59 [tag]Democrats[/tags] in hotly contested House and Senate races, a majority agree with the Bush administration that it would be unwise to set a specific schedule for troop withdrawal, and only a few are calling for substantial troop reductions to begin this year, according to a Washington Post survey of the campaigns.

The large number of Democrats opposed to a strict timeline for ending the military operations runs contrary to the assertion by President Bush and top Republicans that Democrats want to “cut and run” amid mounting casualties and signs of civil war. At the same time, the decision by many Democrats to refrain from advocating a specific plan for withdrawal complicates their leaders’ efforts to convince voters that they offer a new direction for the increasingly unpopular war.

The assertion by Republicans that Democrats want to “cut and run” is consistent with the rhetoric the Dems have been laying out. They elevated John Murtha to media darling. They agreed with timetables in press conferences. So Bush’s assertion fits the Democrats’ public pronouncements.

What it doesn’t agree with is how the Democrats act, regarding their voting almost unanimously against the Hunter Amendment which was a virtual copy of the Murtha plan, and regarding how they’re now campaigning. When this group says one thing and does another, it’s inevitable that any criticism will wind up missing the mark with either the words or the actions. But that’s not Bush’s fault. The fault lies with the Democrats, who are pandering to both sides of the issue. They’re not sitting on the fence, they’re trying to stand firmly on both sides.

However, as their actions show, they realize that, generally, the American public does not want to leave Iraq until the job’s done. So, to appease both the public and the increasingly powerful left-wing groups within the party, they’re talking out of both sides of their collective mouths. You can’t trust the words.

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