How long will I have to wait till I start hearing wag the dog?

Today Iraqi troops loaded up on a whole bunch of American helicopters and set out to find insurgents. They had a tip. They went to see. Now over the last few days Iraq has been teetering on the edge of civil war, or so we are told. Sectarian reprisal killings are all the rage because the majority Shia people are sick of being blown up by Sunni insurgents.

So the Iraqi government actually does its parliamentary thing yesterday — gets things working a bit — and today it orders its own troops into action to go after insurgents so there is at least an argument that sectarian militias can stand down. This is a good thing, even if they didn't find much, which they didn’t.

But it is also a time that new polls shows President Bush has taken a five-point hit from the ports deal, when Dick Morris is shouting from the sidelines, Bush has to get his numbers up, and Democrats have stumbled into a censure impeachment trap at the precise moment they seemed to have staggered Bush with that uppercut on the port deal.

Add all that up and I say that angry, frustrated, and desperate Democrats are going to start a wag the dog mantra: Bush launches military strike to improve his numbers and it failed. Bush screws up again.

I’m expecting to hear this charge by Sunday morning at the latest — I hope I’m disappointed, but I fear I will be right again.

That’s because this censure resolution has turned out to be such a disastrous misstep. The far left has once again grabbed the attention away from the more realistic Democrats and presented the country with the image of a Democratic leader — Senator Russ Feingold demanding a censure, perhaps even impeachment, over something which most Americans actually approve.

Is the NSA surveillance program illegal? New records from a secret spying Appellate Court say no, but it has become such a Democratic mantra they are sure it was illegal.

Therefore the president must be punished, and the left wing is insisting on it. Trouble is a vast majority of Americans approve of listening to Al Qaeda's phone calls and think it is absurd and purely political to push either censure or impeachment over the surveillance program.

Since realist Democrats know that, they are going to try to divert attention soon — probably Friday. It is the moment to trot out the yarn about a president wagging the dog, just you watch.

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