For a while now, the seemingly-official Republican response to Democratic criticism of the Iraq War is the classic gambit: "Oh, yeah? So, what's your plan??"
The implication is that supposedly Democrats don't have "a plan." The reality is that they've proposed many. Some excellent, others unworkable - but there most definitely have been plans offered. Make no mistake: not yet rallying around one single plan is not the same as not having any.
Moreover, as Rep. John Murtha notes, the one Republican admonition, "Stay the Course," isn't a plan. And most especially, it's not a plan to leave. It's a promise to stay.
But still, Republicans continue to point fingers at others not resolving their problem. So it's time to call their bluff. Therefore, after some delay and much anticipation, here at last is what the official Democratic solution should be -
"We have a secret plan to end the War in Iraq."
Okay, sure, it's stupid. But it worked before.
When Richard Nixon ran for President in 1968 during the Vietnam War, that was his response. No details, just - "It's a secret." And it worked. He got elected. And his secret plan? It worked, too: a mere five years later, the war was over.
But isn't it better to propose One Brilliant Plan which will galvanize the public and get them to rally around you?
Oh, my, no. Noooo, no, no.
See, there are two problems being the outside party during any war -
1) Until you have one standard bearer, everyone will offer their own plan. They might all be wonderful, but there never is a single "One Brilliant Plan" to settle on.
2) You don't have Constitutional authority to actually fix the problem. Any plan you come up with - by law - Doesn't Count. Only the President makes foreign policy.
The beauty of the Secret Plan is there's nothing to attack. It can't be Swift Boated. You can't even attack it for being a secret - certainly not the Republicans after years now of Executive Privilege, "That's classified information," "It's treason to report that program" and "The White House can't comment during an ongoing investigation." This is a Secret Plan to end the War in Iraq, after all...wouldn't you demand it stay secret?!! If you can't tell Americans you're spying on them, who would dare suggest we tell our enemies what our plan is to end the war?
So, here's what the Democrats should do.
Party leaders should rent out a really big room. World media will flock there to report as bigwigs and little wigs march in. Then, lock the door. For three days.
What they do inside doesn't matter. Show movies, have a buffet, do karaoke, play Twister, all so that people don't mind staying. (Hey, it's not called a political "Party" for nothing.) That's three days of intense media coverage, with the world anxiously focused on the Democrats. Make sure that occasionally there's passionate shouting coming through the walls. Every once in a while, send people out, looking bedraggled, and out-of-breath, saying, "It's intense in there. I can't comment on what's going on. Some incredible work is being done. It's very exciting." And maybe add cryptically, "If only we had more smoked salmon."
Then, finally, after three days, when the crush of public interest has built to an unbearable breaking point, let everyone out, huge smiles on their faces and arms around each other. A lot of "thumbs up," high-fives and pumping of fists. Then, have Barak Obama announce -
"The Democrats have come up with a secret plan to end the War in Iraq."
See, the thing is, it doesn't matter what the Democrat's plan is if they re-gain full authority. Any plan to exit Iraq will be better than "Stay the Course." By definition it has to be. Moreover, they'll have a six-year grace period to figure something out. But in six years, the Democrats will have the troops home. In six years, if the Republicans keep the White House, even they'll have the troops home. The country won't put up with it otherwise, and politicians wants to keep their jobs.
That's all the Democrats have to do: tell the country they have a secret plan. They already have many fine plans to exit Iraq. Eventually, one of the best will rise to the top.
In the meantime, while Democrats sit smiling over their secret plan, sipping mint juleps, Republicans will be stuck campaigning to Stay the Course with a disastrous war the leader of their party started, that they are unable to exit.
If any of them wondering how they got in this mess, it's not a secret.