In the end, the Republican "revolution" ran out of gas and out of vision. Too many congressional Republicans appeared to care more about maintaining power than using power to implement an agenda, which they also abandoned.
Republicans reverted to fear tactics about Democrats raising taxes and "cutting and running" from Iraq. Democrats probably will try to raise taxes (they call it "pay as you go") and introduce resolutions to withdraw from Iraq under cover of a "plan" that has little to do with victory. Investigations of the administration will be labeled "oversight," and headed by the most liberal members of the House.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a probable 2008 GOP presidential candidate, said on NBC Tuesday night that too many congressional Republicans had not been "careful stewards of taxpayer dollars," nor had they "adhered to conservative principles." He specifically mentioned such spending boondoggles as Alaska's "bridge to nowhere," numerous earmarks, pork barrel spending and scandals. When Republicans behave like Democrats, they lose. Why should people settle for counterfeits when they can have the genuine article?
Republicans can take some solace that President Bush might veto much of the Democrats' stealth agenda, which they hope he will do. Their objective is to win the White House in 2008 and they will turn the tables on the president if he vetoes their agenda, calling him an "obstructionist," a label he has tried to pin on them. The president would be wise to build relationships, at least with the conservative and more moderate Democrats, in hopes of isolating the liberals.
Republicans lost a significant part of their base in this election. Exit polls revealed nearly one-third of white evangelical Christians voted for Democrats, mostly because of perceived corruption in the GOP. They will continue to exercise influence within the Republican Party, but their days of veto power over policy and candidates may be over.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said he wants to cooperate with Republicans and search for common ground. Voters, who have been sickened (again) by corrosive and negative campaign ads, would appreciate that. But Dean has called Republicans "evil," "corrupt" and "brain-dead." That's not the kind of language that is likely to produce conciliation and comity.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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