Mona Charen

Frankly, it is difficult to think of a single instance during his time in office that George W. Bush has said anything stinging or even partisan about the party that has demonized him without pause for three and half years. He has never used expressions like "the Democrat attack machine," nor impugned the motives or character of those who disagree with him. As Deroy Murdoch of Scripps Howard wrote in 2001, "If Bush turns the other cheek any more, his head will fall off."

After years of friendly overtures and bipartisanship, President Bush should accept the fact that an extended hand to the Democrats is likely to be bitten off. The "party of compassion" is shot through with virulent animosity. Pollsters conducting exit polls among Democrats on Super Tuesday found widespread hatred for the president. A Georgia illustrator told The New York Times, "I'm not passionate about Kerry, but I think Bush is a positive evil."

This is mystifying. Bush's principle domestic agenda, prior to Sept.11, was the faith-based initiative to help the least fortunate. He hired a Democrat, John J. DiIulio, to oversee the program. However much they may have disagreed with the means Bush chose, Democrats might at least have acknowledged the president's goodwill and bona fides. They never did.

So as the 2004 campaign gears up, President Bush can drop the Mr. Nice Guy approach. They're going to hate him anyway, so he might as well fight like a cougar.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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