John Edwards, perhaps emboldened by his strong polling numbers in Iowa, has made a clear policy shift away from the standard Democratic Party line. Some might recall back in 2004, at a time when Democrats were too frightened to touch the war, Howard Dean came out and reframed the debate entirely.

While other candidates juggle their words around so not too appear as weak on terror, Edwards has decided to toss the “War On Terror” concept entirely:

In a defense policy speech he planned to deliver at the Council on Foreign Relations, Edwards called the war on terror a “bumper sticker” slogan Bush had used to justify everything from abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison to the invasion of Iraq.

“We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes,” Edwards said in remarks prepared for delivery. “By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set—that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam.”

The important details to this speech, like Edwards’ pledge to increase military spending, will be lost in all of this. The notable point is that John Edwards has fully embraced the Left-progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He has never backed away from the timetable, and in fact has run ads on the issue in Iowa.

Brendan pointed out to us earlier today how Senator Clinton’s campaign is floundering in Iowa. If I were Hillary, I would take bolder action on the matter, not give up in Iowa and challenge Edwards on this in the state. Throw the salvo, go spot-for-spot, and try to chip away at his lead there.