Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown says it was "not wrong" for his party members in Congress to oppose the use-of-force resolution regarding Iraq. (Democrats voted against it 45-10 in the Senate, 179-86 in the House.) Since it is his calling to pass political, not moral or theological judgments, we have to wonder if he has read the polls lately. According to a USA Today Poll taken last Thursday, George Bush's job approval rating was 91 percent. That is not a typo.
The success of a war policy implemented over the objections of the Democrats has emphasized, in a way that no amount of campaign rhetoric or slick television commercials could, one of the basic perceived differences between the two parties. The American people now equate military strength and the willingness to use it as the means of achieving national security; in 1980, 1984 and 1988 the Republican presidential nominees were much more outspoken on that idea than their Democratic opponents; by the fall of 1988, according to the Gallup Poll, voters regarded the Republican Party as "the party for peace" ("best able to avoid World War III") by a margin of 43-33 percent.
Mr. Brown says the end of the war will allow Democrats to face George Bush on domestic issues "and that's to the Democrats' advantage." John White, a former DNC chairman, predicts that Mr. Bush's job rating will drop precipitously "when the focus returns to the economy and domestic problems." Sen. Sam Nunn, best known as the somewhat-hawkish chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee till he led the fight against the use-of-force resolution, told a Democratic Leadership Conference forum that the nation faces "the most formidable agenda of unmet social and economic needs [since 1945]." He plans to emphasize that theme between now and a May DLC meeting in which the organization is expected to draw up a party platform proposal for 1992.