Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bush should launch anti-partisan effort

July 7, 2007

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.

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If you believe the Bush presidency is a failure, what then? Do you delight in whacking him like a pinata for the next 18 months with your only objective a Democratic blowout victory in the 2008 election? If that is your strategy, do you ask yourself what kind of country a Democratic president will inherit and whether he (or she) will have the ability to quickly turn things around after months of pummeling a weakened president?

Or, if you are a Democrat, do you - could you - rise above the partisanship and gain enormous amounts of goodwill and even greater political capital by putting the country's health ahead of your political agenda? Suppose this 18-month period of weakness emboldens our enemies and leads to another terrorist attack. Surely even the most partisan among us would not rejoice over that.

Politics has always been a contact sport, but in the past - even during difficult times - there were those who transcended partisanship, putting the country first. In her book "Team of Rivals," Doris Kearns Goodwin writes of how Abraham Lincoln brought his severest critics into his administration to work with him, not against him, for the promotion of the general welfare.

This is a foreign notion in our day of 24/7 cable news, talk radio, fundraisers and polarizers. These exist and profit from stirring the pot, never achieving harmony or consensus. Each has a vested financial, political and career interest in division, not unity. A fundraiser once told me he can't raise money by sending out letters stressing positive achievements, only negative threats. And thus, the cynicism deepens.

Liberal blogs are full of hatred for President Bush (as conservative media once were for President Clinton). They are beyond debating his policies, instead devolving into condemning him to political and literal hell. While that might make bloggers feel good and occupy their time until the next election, does it strengthen the nation against multiple threats? Can we afford this "luxury," if that's what it is, or would we be better served by political leadership that steps in, not to cause further harm but to do greater good?

Since he has nothing to lose at this point with his approval ratings at record lows, the president might wish to consider the high road. Nothing is to be gained by further swagger and bluster, but much might be accomplished from a genuine reaching out to Democrats, including some of the more responsible ones, during the remainder of the Bush presidency. Ronald Reagan kept a saying on his desk: "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." That attitude might work for President Bush.

The president should name a panel of prominent Democrats and Republicans to help him during the next 18 months. That assistance would not be for the purpose of making him look better, but for tackling difficult problems that partisanship has not solved. He might call it "Americans United," or some other high-minded name that would elevate dialogue beyond the reach of partisan dividers. Didn't he say once that he is "a uniter, not a divider"? This could help him prove it.

Humbling oneself can be difficult, especially for a president, but the rewards would be substantial and beneficial to the country. Leadership is something that is conveyed by the people, not imposed by the leader. If people trust you, they are willing to be led. If they don't, they rebel at your sense of direction, or they conclude you have lost your way. That is the conclusion an overwhelming majority of Americans - including many Bush voters and former supporters - have reached concerning this president and his presidency.

Assembling a group of respected Republicans and Democrats, bypassing the rank partisanship of the Democratic congressional leadership, and declaring his final months in office will be dedicated solely to attempting to do what's right for the country and not for Republican advantage in the next election might - if successful - have the incidental benefit of helping Republicans in 2008. That must not be seen as the motive, or any attempt at consensus will fail.

Go on and try it, Mr. President. There isn't much left to lose. The nation cannot afford the cost of failure.

Comments

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 12 months ago

Asking GWB to do this is like asking a cow to jump over the moon. The man is a narcissistic egoist with a bit of megalomania thrown in for good measure. His polls may be the worst any sitting president has ever had but he just keeps smiling his wide doe eyed smile and wielding his veto pen. He's a legend in his own mind. To do as this writer suggests would mean he would have to admit he is less than perfect. Ain't happenin' folks. He's the PRESIDENT. His daddy bought him the ultimate toy; a country. And like any other two year old he isn't giving it up!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 12 months ago

Cal, High Priority Issues For 2008 Political Campaigns in my mind are the following:

*Stop the character assassinations and get on with substantial discussion on the issues

*Universal HealthCare

*Bring the troops Home

*Halting the export of USA Jobs

*Abuse of Presidential Power

*REPLACE 99% OF Incumbents which is non partisan then bring on Public Finance of Elections instead of Special Interest Finance of Elections http://www.publicampaign.org/ and Implement http://www.fairvote.org/irv/

*How much are american citizens willing to pay for a barrel of oil?

http://www.icta.org/press/release.cfm?news_id=12

http://www.progress.org/gasoline.htm

http://www.icta.org/doc/Real%20Price%20of%20Gasoline.pdf

http://www.iags.org/costofoil.html

http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 12 months ago

Gee right_thinker Clinton never stood on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in a corny flight suit thinking he was Bill Pullman uttering those famous words, "Bring it on!" Well they brought it on alright, 6 years and 3300+ troops dead later.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 12 months ago

"Liberal blogs are full of hatred for President Bush::.." -CT

RT, you puke this out ad nauseum in every post.

But since you never really get around to demonstrating that well-earned total disrespect equals hatred, or support anything else with even a smidgeon of facts or a minimal basis in logic, I retain the sneaking suspicion that you are yourself a liberal, and your posts here a blistering parody of the right-wing viewpoint.

Ragingbear 7 years, 12 months ago

The title of "Commander in Chief" is actually a military title. Ultimately, all military figures must answer to the president. Guess some people didn't pay attention in Social Studies class.

And the entire "Elected" thing you pointed out 75, that is the key word. Bush was not elected the first time, and he wasn't elected the second time. He just did a better job having his cronies steal his election better the second time. That there was a massive amount of corruption and manipulation of the Florida votes cannot be disputed. That is, unless your an idiot.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 12 months ago

"Do you delight in whacking him like a pinata for the next 18 months with your only objective a Democratic blowout victory in the 2008 election? If that is your strategy, do you ask yourself what kind of country a Democratic president will inherit and whether he (or she) will have the ability to quickly turn things around after months of pummeling a weakened president"

-Cal, it is Bush's lies, corruption, and war of choice that have weakened our country. To blame this on criticism (even hatred) of Bush is just childish and simple-minded.

"Since he has nothing to lose at this point with his approval ratings at record lows, the president might wish to consider the high road. Nothing is to be gained by further swagger and bluster, but much might be accomplished from a genuine reaching out to Democrats, including some of the more responsible ones, during the remainder of the Bush presidency."

-Good luck there, Cal. The Bush presidency has been defined by swagger and bluster. After six years of accusing democrats, or anyone who disagrees with him, as unpatriotic and treasonous, it might be difficult at this point.

"That assistance would not be for the purpose of making him look better, but for tackling difficult problems that partisanship has not solved"

-What crapola. You mean problems that Bush's partisanship has caused, such as the quagmire-of-choice in Iraq?

The Bush presidency has been a disaster. I will leave it to historians to judge if it has been the most damaging presidency in history. The beating that our constitution has taken in the last six years is remarkable.

Why not just let this presidency fade into the sunset? Bush need not do any more. Just relax, clear brush, attend a Nats game. What a disgrace to our country Bush is and has been.

mick 7 years, 12 months ago

Cal Thomas is making two big assumptions here; 1)That Bush cares what anyone thinks 2)That he is interested in doing what is best for this country.

beatrice 7 years, 12 months ago

If Bill Clinton (President during the last millenium) was a draft dodger, what does that make current VP Dick Cheney? Come on rt, speak out against this! The hypocrisy here knows no bounds.

If only Cal Thomas would listen to anyone but the far right, he would discover that Americans don't actually enjoy bashing the President. We actually want him to do a good job. Almost all Americans care more for the good of the country than their own party -- that is why we are upset at what this President has been doing. Massive tax cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy during a time of war and runaway deficits is just one example of Bush caring more for his "base" than for his country.

drewdun 7 years, 12 months ago

@ spywell re 1:32 AM post: you really shouldn't post when you're drunk. I've made that mistake before and regretted it.

Jamesaust 7 years, 12 months ago

"...and declaring his final months in office will be dedicated solely to attempting to do what's right for the country and not for Republican advantage in the next election...."

This guy has lost it. W has demonstrated that he is doesn't give a flying fig to what happens to the Republicans in the next election, but rather only about himself.

kugrad 7 years, 12 months ago

And they say irony is dead. The bitterly partisan self-appointed pundit Cal Thomas, uncreative member of the far right wing echo chamber; the man who never has an original thought and whose columns generally read like press releases from extremist think tanks is suggesting Bush, the man won't admit his mistakes, seek to build bipartisanship.

Jamesaust 7 years, 12 months ago

"Bush tried to promote unity early in his presidency. "

Do you exist just to make outrageous statements?

Jamesaust 7 years, 12 months ago

I note this interesting article in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/06/AR2007070601975_pf.html

"Virginia May Spurn GOP in '08: Independents Leaning Democratic for President"

Money quote: "Slightly more than half of Virginia residents said they have an unfavorable view of the national Republican Party, including 60 percent of independents, according to the poll. By comparison, 55 percent of residents, including half of independents, said they have a favorable impression of national Democrats. Only 17 percent of independent voters said they want a Republican to win the White House in 2008."

Remember, Virginia is as reliable as Kansas in voting for Republican presidential candidates (both last voted for a Democrat in 1964).

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