One top House Democrat, who asked to remain anonymous until he sees whether his strategy will work, told me he will ask John Boehner, the current Republican majority leader, for permission to address the GOP caucus. The purpose, he says, would be to build a new relationship and reduce inter-party acrimony. Most people would probably wish him well if it results in progress that would benefit the country.
There are serious issues that must be addressed and resolved. Nice talk won't replace important philosophical differences and differing objectives. Most Americans may be tired of the Iraq war, but our enemies are not tired of it. If the United States pulls out of Iraq before Iraqis are trained and equipped to stand on their own against the insurgent terrorists, the terrorists will inherit a base and export terror around the world, including to the United States.
Democrats pledge to do nothing about Social Security, but this is irresponsible because Social Security cannot be sustained without huge tax increases and/or a sharp reduction in benefits. That is a fact that is beyond debate.
The problem for Republicans is their loss of revolutionary zeal. When Newt Gingrich was forced out as speaker, Republicans lost the best idea man they'd had in years. Speaker Dennis Hastert was rarely seen in public (until the Mark Foley scandal) and he has been more of a cautious manager than a bold leader. The retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been uninspiring. What happened to eloquent Republicans?
Democrats recruited more moderate and even some conservative candidates to blur their left-wing socialist image. But their party leadership is overwhelmingly liberal. They include Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the latter a self-described "pro-lifer," who voted against the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, both presumably pro-life, to the Supreme Court.
Will liberal Democrats, despite all their talk of fiscal conservatism, ethical reform and seeking common ground with Republicans, be able to resist the temptations that come with power and privilege? They didn't when they ran the House for 40 years. Washington and its lobbyists have a way of repaving the road of good intentions for a new majority, as they did with the previous one. But that road can still lead to the same destination.
Good luck, Democrats. You'll need it. You have power now and can't blame Republicans (though you'll try) if you fail.
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