Ogged makes a good point:
The capture is great news, both for the future of Iraq and for the little bit of justice it affords to all of Saddam’s victims.
But here we are in America, with half of us feeling at least a little uneasy because this is good news for George Bush. Get over it. We don’t want to become the caricatured left: actively wishing the country ill for the sake of putting our own people in power (and not for the sake of a greater good, so don’t comfort yourself with that thought: no matter how convinced you are of your political beliefs, you have to admit that you might be wrong, the other side might have the right idea, and the proof will be in the results).
Ask yourself, if Iraq becomes a great success, then will you still be so unhappy with George Bush? If so, say why; lord knows I don’t think there’s any shortage of other things to say. But pretending this isn’t good, or failing to give George Bush some credit when you would have given him the blame, isn’t what the good guys are about.
For the most part, the significant Democrats I’ve seen on television have followed this advice, whether by natural inclination or prudence. John Kerry was a notable exception on the talking heads shows, sounding rather shrill and out of synch–doing the standard Sunday show trick of responding to every question with only semi-related bits of the stump speech. Lieberman was superb. So far, I haven’t seen Howard Dean; my guess is he’ll be smart about it.
Update (1454): Apparently, I wasn’t looking hard enough. Steven Taylor links to the NRO roundup of candidate comments, and Dean has indeed spoken:
“This is a great day for the Iraqi people, the US, and the international community.
“Our troops are to be congratulated on carrying out this mission with the skill and dedication we have come to know of them.
“This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war. We must do everything possible to bring the UN, NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort.
“Now that the dictator is captured, we must also accelerate the transition from occupation to full Iraqi sovereignty.”
It’s pretty bland, frankly. And one wonders how one can come “back” into an effort one has never participated in.
Update (1950): I’ve posted a much more comprehensive listing, with quotes from all the contenders save Sharpton and Braun, here.