Cal  Thomas

Why do Republicans constantly talk about compromise and bipartisanship when Democrats almost never do and when they do, don't mean it? Democrats rarely compromise when they are in the majority.

While John McCain promised those gathered at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul that he would "reach across the aisle" and put Democrats and Independents in a McCain administration, Democrats are busy sending out fund-raising letters asking for donations so they can win a "gridlock-proof Senate majority" and won't have to compromise with Republicans.

Where are principles in this? Why aren't conservatives arguing in favor of the superiority of their ideas rather than attempting to win "Miss Congeniality" awards from liberals?

Republicans who practice politics of conciliation too often get their heads handed to them. Recall President George H.W. Bush who reached out to then-Speaker of the House Jim Wright at Bush's Inauguration in 1989, promising unity, harmony and compromise. Wright's smile revealed he knew that Bush could be had and that Mr. "Read My Lips, No New Taxes" seemed more intent on keeping his promise to be a nice guy than he was in keeping his promise not to increase taxes. When Bush compromised with Democrats and signed-off on a tax hike, it doomed his re-election chances.

Bipartisanship should not be an end, but a means. Instead of talking about populating his administration with Democrats and Independents, John McCain should be listing the problems he intends to solve and the way he intends to solve them. Only then should he recruit Democrats and Independents who agree on the problems and his proposed resolutions.

A national telephone survey by Rasmussen Reports, posted Aug. 27, finds that just 9 percent of likely voters give Congress positive ratings, while 51 percent say it's doing a poor job. This is an issue McCain should embrace. Harry Truman made the Republican "do-nothing Congress" an effective campaign issue in 1948 and while lightning rarely strikes twice in politics, McCain might consider a similar tactic.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

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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