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Congressional Democrats braced themselves to hear the worst concerning U.S. failures in Iraq, and their worst fears were confirmed when they learned that the current military strategy appears to be successful.

They were warned of bad news from the battlefield by South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn, who evidently had been losing sleep nights in advance of the report, worrying about just how bad the news could be.

Last week, he told his worried colleagues of his fear that Gen. Petraeus might deliver a positive assessment in September of how effective the new U.S. military strategy in Iraq is. Were that to occur, warned Rep. Clyburn, “then it would be a real problem for us.”

“Us,” presumably, means the Democrats, because positive war news would be overwhelmingly good news for the rest of America. It is only bad news if one is a Democrat. Or a terrorist.

That raises all kinds of questions for which the answers are already all too obvious, but it is the questions that the Democrats seem to find embarrassing.

Why would it be a “real problem” for the Democrats if it looked like our forces were starting to win in Iraq? After all, the Democrats swear to the last man (or woman) that they support the troops unequivocally.

It’s like when one says they support a football team. What, exactly, does it mean to “support” a football team. Does it mean meeting all its financial needs, as in supporting a family, or supporting a wife?

Does supporting your favorite team mean you stay up nights worrying about how to pay the stadium’s electric bill, or buy their uniforms or pay their medical bills?

Of course it doesn’t. What it means to support one’s team is that you hope they win. If you support the Buffalo Bills, it means that you hope they win when they play the New England Patriots.

If you are rooting for the Patriots, then you aren’t supporting the Bills. Are you? If you are going to bet on the game, if you bet on the Patriots, can you really claim that you support the Bills?

So what does it mean when a United States congressman says that good news about the troop surge is bad news for his party? Does it mean that they bet on the other team and now they are afraid they might lose their bet?

Actually, yes. That is exactly what it means. Oh, the spin doctors have already spent countless man-hours trying to spin Clyburn’s observation into something positive or claim that it is being exploited or misquoted or misinterpreted, but, in the final analysis, there is only one way to interpret it.

It can only be bad news for your team to win if you bet on the other team.

The proof is in the pudding. U.S. commanders told the Congress this week that the surge is working. With more than a month to go before the mid-September report date, U.S. forces have achieved some remarkable successes.

Anbar province, once a hotbed of Sunni insurgency and the surge’s top priority target after greater Baghdad, has seen a stunning turnaround.

Sunni tribal sheiks, the real powers in much of Anbar, are siding with U.S. forces against a common enemy – the terrorists of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Attacks against U.S. troops and Iraqi government forces in Ramadi, Anbar’s once ultra-violent provincial capital, have all but ceased.

Al-Qaida is on the run almost everywhere in Iraq. U.S. commanders report it has no safe haven left in any Iraqi population center. They pleaded with Senate Democrats for more time to let the surge strategy work.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said flatly, “We’re not staying. You don’t have much time.”

Public opinion is already beginning to shift away from them. In this week’s USA Today/Gallup Poll, the proportion of those who said the additional troops are “making the situation better” rose to 31 percent from 22 percent a month ago. Those who said it was “not making much difference” dropped to 41 percent from 51 percent.

That isn’t to say that the hard-core Democrats are going to hedge their bets. They are betting on al-Qaida to win, and they aren’t budging.

Don’t roll your eyes. It is al-Qaida that they are betting on, not some non-existent “Iraqi insurgency.” We aren’t at war with Iraq – we won that war in 2003.

We aren’t at war with some Iraqi insurgency hoping to bring back Saddam’s government. The Iraqis hanged Saddam last year. He isn’t coming back.

Instead, we are at war with al-Qaida, who just happens to be IN Iraq. And if it looks like America might be winning, well, according to Rep. James Clyburn and his colleagues, well, that could be a real problem for them. He’s right. It will present a real problem.

You can’t really claim to support your team if you’re betting for the other side.

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