Under the Sun
Democrats should not let bygones be bygones
WHEN President Bush goes to the House of Representatives in January to deliver his second-to-the-last State of the Union address, he will find a crisp Nancy Pelosi seated up there behind the desk next to the hunkering presence of Dick Cheney.
Imagine that -- a woman just two heartbeats away from the Oval Office, and a Democrat to boot.
You can bet those hearts -- one hell-on-bicycle-wheels healthy, the other aided by a pacemaker and stents -- were thumpin' last week when the two men did the obligatory handshake and smile photo-op with the presumptive speaker of the House.
You can bet the blue ties they'd wrapped around their necks as a show of bipartisanship to Senate Democratic leaders (a Rovean touch?) felt a bit stifling as they promised to respect the result of the elections that dispatched many in the Republican majority to real jobs, or more likely to the lucre land of lobbyists.
Don't feel sorry for the soon-to-be-ex-politicians; at least they'll be making big bucks buttonholing former pals for favors and the inside tracks.
No, feel sorry for the ones they left behind and more so for the Democrats who will have to find the right mix of aggressiveness and restraint as they attempt to quell the venomous atmosphere concocted by Republicans and seasoned with the minority's frustration.
THE STORYLINE of the mid-term election has been that moderate voters made the difference in overturning Congress. But if that's true, it's also undeniable that liberals -- taunted and mocked as traitorous, unpatriotic terrorist-huggers -- were the ones who started banging the drum loudly and resolutely until the tattoo finally summoned the somnolent.
The beat must gone on for even as the administration mouthed "bipartisanship," its windy words blew away quickly with Bush's agenda for the lame-duck session.
On top of his list is the domestic spying bill largely formulated by Cheney's staff bent on an imperial presidency and in which Democrats had no hand in drafting.
THOUGH Democratic leaders have made it clear they will not take up the legislation this year, Bush has resumed his pre-election modus operandi of sending out his stand-ins to tag the opposition as soft on terrorists and to exaggerate the urgency of its passage even though the administration continues wiretapping without authorization.
The president also wants to extend tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy. He wants an energy bill that would open the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to gas and oil drilling and just about eliminate a moratorium that has been in place for nearly a quarter-century.
Democrats are treading lightly, convinced correctly that Americans won't stand for in-your-face partisanship. But voters also want change. They want a Congress that deliberates and checks an administration they saw as out of control. They want representatives who no longer act as the president's enablers, who asked when and how high to jump. They want lawmakers who seek answers and keep watch over their interests, not just those of business and industry friends.
DEMOCRATS can't turn away from oversight, from taking a good, hard look at the administration's conduct. Bipartisanship should not be a way to ignore the poor, if not greedily illegal, practices of war contractors. A probe of the war should not executed to blame, but to serve as fair warning that cheating and negligence will not be tolerated.
Most of all, voters last week said they want an end to the war in Iraq. They want a clear plan that will hand over to the Iraqi government and its citizens the future of their country. They want a strategy that ensures the deaths of almost 3,000 soldiers won't be a hollow sacrifice. They want America to come back to its principles and to be able to find common ground once again.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org