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.
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