“Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.” —H. L. Mencken.

What should pain Republicans most — and President George W. Bush most of all — is that they deserved everything they got in last week’s midterm elections. And more.

As I wrote at the time, President Bush lost his claim on conservative voters more than a year ago when he put open borders and runaway spending ahead of limited government and the rule of law. In 2004, I begged President Bush to prove to the troops that failure in Iraq was not an option by firing Don Rumsfeld. And I’ve repeatedly complained to anyone who will listen that this president has committed the most unforgivable sin of all: sending American soldiers into battle without a complete commitment to their victory.

From letting George Tenet keep his job at the CIA to keeping the disastrous military leadership that repeatedly got Iraq wrong, President Bush has proven that something other than victory (loyalty? politics?) was his highest priority.

And now, Mr. President, that’s exactly what you’ve got, both at the ballot box and in the streets of Iraq: something other than victory.

Watching President Bush fire Don Rumsfeld the day after his party lost control of Congress was a nauseating mix of bad timing and missed opportunity. If the president were as committed to military victory as he is to political victory, Rummy would have been tossed long ago. Now both battles have been lost.

For, despite Speaker-in-Waiting Pelosi’s claims that this election was about health care, tax cuts, Mark Foley’s hard drive, blah, blah, blah — it was all about Iraq. Given that the Democrats have no plan and no clue what to do about Iraq either, it’s no surprise they’re already trying to change the subject.

The American people made their point and they made it clearly and unambiguously: if you go to war, you better win. If you don’t, the American people are going to punish you for it. It’s called “justice.”

Some Congressional Republicans are whining about being unfairly held responsible for Bush’s mistakes in Iraq. Sorry, guys, but you deserve everything you’re getting, too. For too long, you’ve confused “Congressman” with “Cheerleader.” You don’t work for the president, my GOP legislative friends. You work for we, the people.

Or at least you did until last Tuesday…

Imagine if, after the second invasion of Fallujah, 100 GOP congressmen had lined up on the steps of the Capitol and demanded Don Rumsfeld’s head. Imagine a Republican Congress that threatened Defense Department funding unless the White House presented a new plan for victory. Imagine how many House and Senate seats those Republicans would hold today. Their November message could have been: “We know there are problems, we know the war isn’t being fought the right way, but we’re not here to ‘cut and run,’ we are here to ‘fight and win!'”

Instead, Republican congressmen were left with the message “Don’t Blame Me, I Hate Bush, Too!”

And while we’re imagining, what if President Bush had spent the past three years following Lincoln’s example, littering the White House lawn with the heads of unsuccessful generals? Republicans would have won the midterm election and, more importantly, America might be winning in Iraq today.

That’s the real tragedy here. Our defeat in Iraq may be a great victory for the Democrats, but it’s a far more significant victory for the Islamists. Iraq was an opportunity to carve out a home in the heart of the Middle East for a modern, moderate vision of Islam. Instead, it’s an opportunity being lost.

Iraq is going so badly that American and British officials are openly discussing making a deal with the Iranians. You know — the world’s largest distributor of Islamo-fascism?

A deal with Iran would be like a deal with Hitler’s Germany, and (as the Poles discovered in 1939) just as reliable. But the American people have been convinced that anything, even anti-Semitic Islamic whackjobs with nukes, is better than what President Bush and his team have gotten us.

So forgive me if I don’t shed even one tear for the lost careers of a few big-spending congressional hacks. Pardon me if I don’t cry over the defeat of a president who has understood the Islamist threat so well, yet handled the response so very, very poorly.

I’m not a “Values Voter” or a Social Moderate/Fiscal Conservative or even member of the Log Cabin GOP. I’m a “Results Republican.” I want America to win. Period.

In war, there is no substitute for victory. Not even Karl Rove’s amazing GOP turnout machine.

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