Sunday, April 22, 2007 | 7:16 a.m.
A theme struck by many Republicans when critics speak plainly, honestly and forcefully about the situation in Iraq is that the morale of our troops sinks lower with each word.
It was sounded again Thursday after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked that the war in Iraq "is lost."
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, leader of the Senate Republicans, was among the first to fall back on the theme in responding to Reid.
"I can't begin to imagine how our troops in the field, who are risking their lives each day, are going to react when they get back to the base and hear that the Democratic leader of the United States Senate has declared the war is lost," McConnell said .
Our troops, honorably following orders, give entirely of themselves in attempting to fulfill their missions. But during the times they are off combat or support duty, give them credit for being thinking human beings who can listen to criticisms - enabled by our freedoms that they are fighting for - without suffering deep wounds to their morale.
Frank comments about the civilian leadership in Washington that has so bungled the Iraq war are not going to throw them off stride.
Reid on Friday appropriately rebuked Republicans for once again resorting to this "morale of our troops" theme rather than responding directly to criticism. Democrats " take a back seat to no one in supporting our troops, and we will never abandon our troops in time of war," he said.
Republicans should stop making false assumptions about our troops and address well-earned criticisms, point by point.