My hunch is that the next election may well come down to what the public thinks of “Bush’s War” in Iraq — and also which party is seen as more able on the war on terror generally.

The public view of Iraq will be event-driven — either it will be working or it won’t be. Neither malicious mainstream media badnewsing, nor White House happy talk will be able to trump reality. The progress in Iraq over the last six months has broken through the media’s cordon dissanitaire. That is why the defeatist Democratic leaders and presidential candidates have felt forced to concede at least “short-term military” success.

If the military success and the growing political success at the local and provincial level with the Sunni tribal leaders continues and expands its effect to the national Baghdad government and we have both military calm and maturing pro-American governance in Iraq, Democrats from presidential candidate to city council will be in an awful state.

The Republican National Committee doubtless has stored all the video of Democratic defeatism from this spring and early summer uttered not only in Washington but by their local state legislators and city officials. (From what I saw this spring, the national Democratic Party defeatism talking points were being picked up by Democratic Party congressional wannabees across the country.) This spring the Democrats pushed all their chips in for defeat in Iraq.

They can’t retrieve those chips now.

Which puts them in an awkward position if things go well, sure enough.