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The tale of two memos illustrates much that divides Republicans from Democrats.

The first memo was authored by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It was leaked from the Pentagon, and it was characterized by its focus on the enemy that threatens the United States. Rumsfeld pushed his colleagues to focus on the long-range problem presented by the madrassas and by the need to continually push the government to innovate in the war that cannot be lost.

The second memo was authored by the staff to the Senate’s Democrats sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Its focus was on how to attack President Bush – how to manipulate the Committee’s rules and its investigations so that both would serve partisan, short-term goals of wounding the president during an election year.

The Republican memo focused on defeating the country’s enemies. The Democratic memo focused on defeating the Republicans.

In a nutshell, that is the crucial difference between the parties: The Republican Party priority is national security. The Democratic Party priority is Democratic Party power.

Democratic Sen. Zell Miller described the memo as a “first cousin to treason,” and Republicans announced that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s tradition of bipartisan work on behalf of the national security was dead.

Good. It is time for Senate Republicans to recognize that the Pat Leahys and the Jay Rockerfellers, the Barbara Boxers and the Carl Levins are not there to help the Republicans advance the national security interests of the United States. The refusal by Levin to denounce the memo on Sunday during his appearance with Tony Snow on Fox News Sunday was an opportunity to show himself as a genuine advocate for national defense by demanding an investigation into the staff who composed the hit plan on the president. Instead, Levin fumed on national television that the memo had been swiped.

Levin was more concerned with having his staff found out than with having his staff vetted for hyper-partisan hacks.

This is not treasonous behavior, just extremely selfish, churlish behavior – the sort associated with win-at-all-costs partisanship. The Democratic Party is so desperate to return to power that they have abandoned any sort of mooring to the traditional role of the loyal opposition during wartime. Indeed, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Democrats really don’t believe it is a war.

So Howard Dean surges and Joe Lieberman fades. Al Gore appears from the shadows to denounce the Bush administration’s drift toward Orwellian control, and Carl Levin contorts before a national audience. The serious people, including the president and the secretary of defense, go about their jobs defending the country and the gap between the parties grows wider every day.

I cannot believe the election of 2004 will be close. To vote for a Democrat after the past two-plus years is to vote for disarmament in the war on terrorism. They are a mediocre bunch, comfortable with playing D.C. games while enemies continue to bomb and kill.

How anyone can support them is baffling, and the evidence of their fecklessness overwhelming. We can only hope that between now and November of 2004 they remain consistent about their motives and outspoken about their beliefs.

What is really needed is a 60-seat majority for the GOP in the U.S. Senate. Visit the National Republican Senatorial Committee and send money. It is the best investment in the national security an ordinary citizen can make.

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