Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sam Brownback are not getting a lot of headlines with their presidential bids. Their fundraising is weak; poll numbers abysmal. Yet they are the only two candidates actually doing what all the campaigns say needs to be done: They are uniting across party lines to promote a solution in Iraq.
The two men have joined forces to sponsor legislation aimed at stopping the fighting between Iraq's three major ethnic groups. The legislation encourages a "soft" partition of the country, with separate "states" for the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds. It calls for oil revenue sharing. There would still be an overarching national government, but these three segments of Iraq would have a great deal of control over their own police forces, their own security, their daily lives.
The measure is, at least for the moment, enjoying substantial, bipartisan support. What's more, many of the military, political and Middle East analysts I have talked to say this idea could work. It could quiet ethnic tensions, reduce violence, and allow America to consider a reasonable, safe, and relatively quick exit from this war, with most troops home by next summer.
Some Iraqis are wary, however, and say America should not have a say in such a matter anyway. Even backers admit it is not a perfect plan, as it could foreshadow an absolute collapse of the nation, an intense and open civil war.
So when Biden and Brownback stand side-by-side in Iowa later this week to promote this plan, some pundits will call it political desperation. Maybe it is. Raw Politics knows neither Biden nor Brownback is likely to become president.
But give both men this: The war is the number one issue of this campaign, and while the other contenders talk, talk, talk about what they might do if elected, these two are trying to do something now.
-- By Tom Foreman, CNN CorrespondentEditor's note: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referenced Mike Huckabee instead of Sam Brownback.