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Opening Arguments

Let's agree to disagree

With Cindy Sheehan's protest getting reverential treatment by the press and Republicans like Chuck Hagel pounding President Bush over Iraq, the split within the GOP is getting most of the attention these days. But Democrats aren't exactly one big, happy family, either. As The Washington Post reports, they are themselves bitterly divided over Iraq. And The New York Times weighs in with a piece or their inability to agree on how tough to be on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

Each side will delight in the misery of the other, but this is a healthy shakedown cruise as we head into midterm elections next year and the 2008 presidential contest. Terrorism is still going to be the issue of greatest importance, and voters will want to hear how our prospective leaders intend to fight it. Supporters of the war in Iraq have been mostly incompetent in connecting the dots sufficiently to make Americans believe Iraq and the larger war are related (and they must dissipate the whiff of defeatism). But opponents have not exactly been eloquent about what they would do instead of Iraq, which is why polls show Democrats are not really gaining from Bush's sliding poll numbers. Most Americans -- whatever their opinion of going to Iraq in the first place or their state of confidence in the administration -- realize it is not in our best interest to walk away and leave Iraq a failed state.

As for Roberts, it's becoming clear that the real fight will come if there is another vacancy while Bush is still in office. Unless Roberts has completely fooled us, he will go to the court a committed judicial conservative, which will begin to shift the balance of power on the court.