Tuesday on Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks.

Gross tasked Ricks, the author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, with explaining how the much-ballyhooed "surge" is, in fact, failing miserably.

He was the right man for the job. In essence:

Technically, the Anbar Awakening, the "new life in Baghdad," the decreasing levels of violence against American servicepersons, and the plummeting incidents of sectarian violence in Iraq are all positive signs. But the real truth is that none of that matters. The real problem is the "intransigence of the Shia-dominated government."

That is, George Bush said the surge was designed to provide "breathing space" to bring about a political solution. The political solution (at least at the national level) has not materialized; therefore, the surge has failed. Which means Harry Reid was right: "the war is lost" (and a Fiasco, for that matter).

Nothing like some objective analysis from an expert reporter with no axes to grind.

Actually, Ricks merely voiced the opposition talking points already making the rounds. I have avoided this phrase: "Democrats are invested in defeat." However, the utter refusal to accept the objective reality that the surge has worked and opened up new possibilities in Iraq leaves me little choice.

The most pressing question in American politics today remains whether Democrats are willing to forego political advantage to save the country.