Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not for the first time and not likely for the last...


Bill Safire is usally right on, spot on, on the money. For example, with some notes

November 9, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

After the Thumpin’

Washington

WHY all the glum faces?” President Bush asked at the opening of yesterday’s news conference.

Though the assembled reporters were hardly glum, conservatives of every stripe can console themselves by considering the limited scope of the Democrats’ midterm sweep.

Despite the pervasive weariness with the war and the high tide of irritation at Bush’s steadfastness; despite the general disgust at the policy paralysis and ethical laxity in the wake of muscle-bound one-party control — the result was only the average loss of House and Senate seats of the party in power midway in the second term of a president.

NOT BEEN POLICY PARALYSIS. SOME BIG ITEMS PASSED, OFTEN TO THE DISGUST OF PALOE-CONS AND/OR LIBERTARIANS, SOME OF WHOM THINK "TAXATION IS THEFT."

BUT WHAT KEPT THE COMMIES OUT AND KEPT THEM FROM EATING THE LUNCH OF LIBERTARIANS AND PALEOS?

A political shakeup every dozen years is a necessary cathartic for the two-party system. What’s more, the rightward cast of many Democrats in the freshman class is hardly bad news for conservativism. And the heartening victory of Joe Lieberman over the angry far left in liberal Connecticut augurs a renewal of a brief period of bipartisanship at the water’s edge.

YUP, I HOPE. .

Where does our renewed two-party nation go from here?

First, leadership is never weakened by a little humility. After what he called “the thumpin’,” the president showed he got the voters’ message on Iraq: “I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made there.”


I THINK THERE HAS BEEN SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS.

But in acknowledging that “they cast their vote for a new direction,” he didn’t wring his hands: “The people have spoken and now it’s time to move on.”

Months ago, he had made provision for that “new direction” response — a phrase acceptable to hawks provided the direction is not out, quick — in the post-election report to be made by James Baker and Lee Hamilton’s Iraq study group. The report should give cover to increased pressure on elected Iraqi leaders to confront the urgent needs of nationhood.

By placing Robert “Fresh Eyes” Gates, a former C.I.A. chief, on that panel, Bush paved the way for Donald Rumsfeld to absorb the need of opposition politicians for bureaucratic punishment. The loyal SecDef’s resignation after the poll results was Bush’s act of contrition.

Now the president should take the Democratic leaders up on their fine post-election expressions of bipartisanship. He’s headed to Asia for an economic meeting in Hanoi. In its lame-duck session beginning next week, Congress should pass the $67 million earmark to Vietnam called for by Bush primarily for AIDS treatment.

I GUESS THAT'S OK. I STILL DON'T LIKE GIVING MONEY TO FOLKS WHO KILLED AMERICANS AND THEIR OWN PEOPLE.

Then he should seize the initiative to get some cooperation on domestic progress during the final days of the outgoing, unlamented 109th Congress. In addition to the usual budgetary housekeeping between Thanksgiving and Christmas, both parties should make a concerted effort to deal with the most doable urgent domestic need: to resolve the fears of 12 million Hispanic “illegals” living in the United States.

Bush has already proposed a comprehensive compromise: a guest worker program with earnable citizenship for those here now, as well as a border fence to stop the influx of Mexicans. But Republicans — fearful of nativist voters shouting “no amnesty” — passed only the harsh half, and that unfunded fence is a joke. Now Bush, with many Democrats already supporting his approach, should get recalcitrant Republicans to pass his fair-minded immigration package. It would be a test of both new Republican discipline and Democrats’ sincerity on bipartisanship.

YUP...

The window of bipartisan compromise can also fit a minimum wage increase tied to inheritance tax reduction; INHERITANCE TAXES SHOULD NOT BE LOWERED. THEY SHOULD BE PAID BY THE RECIPIENTS, NOT THE ESTATE, KEYED TO THE WEALTH OF THE RECIPIENT.

energy drilling tied to mileage standards and alternative fuels subsidy. But the window won’t be open long. That’s because the committees of the 110th Congress will be headed by the liberal Old Bulls eager to pass “one-house bills” useful only to provide hearings and make headlines.

THE MARKET WILL DO IT BETTER, AS WSAF FREQUENTLY NOTES.

Committee chairmen like Charles Rangel of Ways and Means, John Dingell of Energy and Commerce, Barney Frank of Financial Services and others will crowd the airwaves with hearings grilling contractors and torturing accused torturers.

After a few months of this posturing, a newly emboldened Bush, emulating F.D.R.’s derision of the isolationists “Martin, Barton and Fish,” will be moved to denounce “Rangel, Dingell and Frank.” This will be the signal for new Republican leaders, like Mike Pence of Indiana, to take up the tactic of Harry Truman by denouncing “the do-nothing 110th Congress.” At the same time, as the 2008 primaries loom, the Trumanesque Bush will measure his reduction of troops in Iraq by the ability of the Iraqis to take over their own defense.

That’s when the new Democratic majority will suffer great stress. Senator Hillary Clinton evoked “the vital, dynamic center” in her victory speech, and Representative Rahm Emanuel was the model of non-hubristic responsibility during the delighted Democratic deluge. But it’s hard to imagine Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Kerry-Gore-Edwards campaigners and the whole loser left holding still into the snows of New Hampshire.

Into that incipient split of the new Congressional majority will march John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and the other conservative, internationalist hopes. So cheer up, my fellow right-wingers, WSAF IS NOT A RIGHT-WINGER. HE'S EVEN ALWAYS A LIBERTARIAN. HE'S A BLEND, LIKE MOST OF US especially those of you who have grown too accustomed to winning every election night. Sometimes we have to suffer a loud, corrective slap before readying the political counterpunch.

William Safire, a former Times Op-Ed columnist, is chairman of the Dana Foundation.

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