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Long ago and far away when I was a Democrat — I was young — I was always embarrassed about one thing or another Democrats were doing. Not that Republicans aren't embarrassing too from time to time, but eventually I had to make a choice about who was less embarrassing. That's how I got to be a right-leaning registered independent.

So it was with a pang of remembrance of things past that I read a story in The Washington Post about the hostage-taking of American soldiers in Iraq by Al Qaeda, and what is doubtless going to be their unhappy fate.

In that story, down a ways where you might say it was buried, was this little quote from Mohamad al-Janabi, who The Washington Post said is "a reputed Al Qaeda member in the nearby city of Salman Pak." The Washington Post interviewed him by telephone and he said this: "I can assure you that we will start pressuring Bush in a new way at the same time he is facing pressures from the Democrats and the American people."

If I were still a Democrat I would be in a red-faced rage about that statement. I would not want anyone thinking I am in league with Al Qaeda in pressuring George Bush on anything.

So now we've got an Al Qaeda guy saying he's going to take Americans prisoner and torture them, and maybe kill them, and it will be a "pressure tactic" on George W. Bush that Al Qaeda says is in sync with Democrats in Congress.

Last November Nancy Pelosi said it was sad that George W. Bush keeps blaming problems in Iraq on Al Qaeda. In debates we hear Dems occasionally say we have to fight Al Qaeda, as if that is not happening in Iraq, as if Al Qaeda still operates exclusively in Afghanistan and we should confine our war efforts there instead of Iraq.

Well, oops. The hostage-taking shows that old line isn't going to work anymore. If Democrats want to fight Al Qaeda, they're going to have to do it in Iraq.

That's My Word.

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