Watching the events unfold in Iraq over the last few days has been disconcerting for all Americans who remember the nearly 5,000 soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the Iraq War.
First and foremost, the sacrifice paid by both those who lost their lives and the thousands more maimed and injured must be remembered and honored before any discussion of the political ramifications of what’s going on can be considered.
However, it is clear that something of this magnitude cannot simply exist quietly in the background of what will be a very competitive 2014 election.
Many wondered if there would be anything that could drive Obamacare out of the headlines when we looked ahead to the election last year. At this point, I think many Democrats would prefer to talk about Obamacare than to be tagged with ads that will focus on the chaos in Syria, Ukraine and now in Iraq.
I understand the very basic point that one Democratic candidate for Senate or Congress cannot singlehandedly affect foreign policy decisions of a President, but remember, that didn’t stop Republicans getting trounced in 2006 either.
The Iraq question becomes a more complicated issue than Syria and Ukraine. With Iraq, you have the pre-Obama administration stances on the war, and then you have how the Obama administration handled the end of the war.
On those points, Republican and Democratic voters are in clear camps. Any problems in 2014 are still blamed on former President Bush by Democrats and on President Obama by Republicans.
But where do Independent voters lean on Iraq? That is the $64,000 question.
Independents do not travel back in time as effectively as Democrats or Republicans. I think unaffiliated voters tend to live in the now and if they do, that is not good news for Democratic candidates.
It’s not just about Iraq, per se, it’s about the fact that the foreign affairs headlines for the President keep getting worse. It’s about a continuous build up that is going to end up taking the greatest toll. By themselves, none of these issues could sway many voters. However, Iraq may make the trifecta that pushes foreign affairs to the forefront of the election.
That may create a two front war for Democratic candidates, battling Obamacare in one ad and foreign policy blunders in another.
But before you start handicapping which Republican senator will become the majority leader, remember the one very prominent Achilles’ heel of the Republican Party, themselves. The GOP has been handed clear advantages before and have fumbled them away by thinking all unaffiliated votes will somehow back the same ideas that Tea Party devotees will. This is far from a foregone conclusion.
But if Iraq continues to devolve, I think we will see great pains taken by Republicans to tie Democrats to the entire set of foreign policy issues now plaguing the Obama administration. Iraq may be the straw to break the camel’s back, or perhaps the straw that breaks the donkey’s back.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.