There's nothing improper about tough partisan attacks as long as they focus on substance and significant issues, and constitute a response to some misguided initiatives or bone-headed errors by the other side. We should give Obama the chance to make such mistakes – as he surely will, following the pattern of Bill Clinton, another newly elected, young Democratic hero with seemingly messianic gifts.
Yes, the public expects harsh political warfare in the years ahead but it matters greatly who's the perceived initiator of the conflict. Bush suffered through his entire presidency for the perception that he never delivered on his earnest "uniter-not-a-divider" rhetoric, and that he and Karl Rove– and not the Democrats – created the hostile, toxic atmosphere in Washington.
It's a much smarter strategy to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt in his early days as the nation's leader. If we furiously reject any attempts at reconciliation or governing from the center before they're even made, we only encourage the new president to turn sharply to the left—and give him public justification for doing so.
It's more important right now to focus on the spirit of the upcoming holidays – giving thanks, rejoicing in family, demonstrating our commitment to patriotism, peace and good will, and dropping discussions of Obama's birth certificate (what a stupid obsession!) and past radical associations. Surely, even the most embittered battler must welcome the idea of giving rock 'em/sock 'em partisan politics a brief rest. It's also a sure thing that the American people will feel profoundly grateful if we do so.
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