Karl Rove's flagrant remarks last week about Democrats is symptomatic that popular support for the Iraq War is slipping, and consequently President Bush's standings are falling as well. Jack Ohman of The Oregonian pegged the phenomenon well. In Rove's conjured world, it's 9/11 all day, every day, because that's what elects his brand of Republican. Ohman's editorial cartoon is on this page.

Another symptom of the schism provoked by the Iraq war is the biennial flag debate in Congress. The House and Senate will be voting on a constitutional amendment to forbid desecration of the American flag.

This amendment is cheap politics. It is made for demagogues who are desperate to paint their opponents into a corner. It is not worthy of intelligent lawmakers such as Sen. Gordon Smith. Yet Smith on prior occasions has voted for this proposition.

Flag desecration is hardly an epidemic. In fact, it hardly happens.

The essential flaw in this discussion is that the flag is only a symbol of our nation. The bedrock of the nation is the Constitution. Mr. Bush is not the first president to wrap himself in the flag while subverting elements of the Constitution.

Gordon Smith knows better.