AUSTIN BAY on Petraeus, Iraq, and Congress:

Since Gen. Petraeus’ and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s September 2007 testimony, “the Anaconda” (the incremental synergy of this complex war-fighting and nation-building process) has dramatically squeezed al Qaeda. No, it hasn’t crushed it — but the organization is physically damaged. Moreover, with the “Sunni Awakening” and similar programs, al Qaeda has suffered extraordinary political and information defeats as Sunnis publicly turned on the jihadis.

Is this victory in Iraq? No. But it suggests we’ve won a major battle with potentially global significance, the kind that in the long term squeezes al Qaeda’s ideological appeal in all corners of the planet. . . .

The Iraqi army and Iraqi government planned and executed the operation themselves. Failure? Don’t think so. This is progress. As time passes, it is increasingly clear the Iraqi army did a far better job than the Shia gangsters.

But we all know why the complex chart gets ignored and successes are glasses half-empty: A presidential election campaign is on, and the Democratic Party has bet its soul on defeat.

“Hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, but most of all speak of no progress in Iraq.” Thus Sen. Joe Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, deftly summed the last two years of Democratic Party posturing as well as the Democrats’ talking points in the latest hearings.

Mr. Lieberman’s maverick pal, Sen. and Republican presidential nominee John McCain, spoke more bluntly, “Congress should not choose to lose in Iraq, but we should choose to succeed.”

Read the whole thing. And read this report from the New York Times, too, which is at considerable distance from the earlier NYT analysis that Mickey Kaus is mocking today. But then, it involves actual reporting.

And don’t miss these appalled thoughts on the Petraeus hearings from Iraq blogger Alaa. “I was watching the Interrogation of General David Petraeus and the ambassador. What struck me most was the attitude and words from some of the Democratic senators. It seemed as though the enemy for these ladies and gentlemen was not Al-Qaeda, the terrorists or people like that.”