Bipartisanship, Daschle Style: Daschle's First 100

Posted: May 06, 2001 12:00 AM
When it comes to malicious partisanship Senator Tom Daschle knows no bounds. Let me guide you through an odyssey of his first 100 days with President Bush. Of course, to be accurate, I must mention Daschle’s rhetoric preceding President Bush’s inauguration. He was among those leading the charge in asserting that Bush’s presidency would be illegitimate because of the alleged Florida voting irregularities. Incidentally, Daschle never bothered to retract this statement when studies concluded that Bush would have won the state even if a recount had proceeded in all Florida counties. But then, Daschle was just warming up. Let’s look at his track record for bipartisanship since then. In the meantime, I ask you to consider, by contrast, George Bush’s tone and rhetoric. The differences are striking. I’ll give you a number of examples illustrative of Daschle’s venomous attitude toward President Bush and apologize in advance for my inevitable failure to include everything. It would be impossible in a single column. Do you remember: -- Daschle and Gephardt on that hokey, staged phone conference with Al Gore encouraging him to pursue his divisive post-election challenge in Florida? -- Daschle trying to block passage of a bill that would have authorized polling places on domestic military installations and ease the obstacles some service members face in absentee balloting? -- Daschle succeeding in getting at least 41 senators to oppose John Ashcroft’s confirmation as Attorney General to send a "signal to the Bush administration that Democrats have the clout to block future nominations?" Their reason for opposing Ashcroft? He is conservative. -- Daschle and brother Gephardt threatening to withdraw all future campaign funds from any Democrat who accepted a seat in the Bush cabinet? -- Daschle and Gephardt railing against Bush and Cheney for badmouthing the economy and insisting that their words had caused the downturn that began in the last two quarters of the Clinton-Gore era? It appears, to the contrary, that the economy may actually have improved in the first quarter of Bush-Cheney. -- Daschle and Gephardt holding a press conference deriding President Bush’s tax plan as a scheme to buy each millionaire a new Lexus and the middle class and poor a muffler? -- Daschle and Gephardt employing scare tactics by claiming that Bush’s tax cut would send us back into deficit spending, despite the fact that they were encouraging profligate spending increases of 8.7 percent? -- Daschle smugly gloating in a press conference for having initially helped to defeat Bush’s tax plan in the Senate -- a tax plan Daschle disingenuously derided as skewed in favor of the rich when, in fact, it makes the tax code more progressive? -- Daschle and his fellow Democrats producing an ad alleging that President Bush and the Republicans were poisoning our drinking water with arsenic and our hamburgers with salmonella? This, despite the fact that Daschle voted to extend the EPA’s deadline to impose the new arsenic guideline. -- Daschle lambasting Bush for having the courage to propose reforming Social Security when he appointed a reform commission including some prominent Democrats? Daschle charged, "This is a stacked, completely orchestrated effort to come to a desired result." Daschle also promised to use procedural tricks to prevent the Senate from acting on any Social Security reform legislation along the lines of Bush’s proposal, which involves partial privatization. -- Daschle announcing that Senate Democrats stand ready to block the confirmation of any Bush judicial nominee opposed by either one or both of the prospective judge’s home-state Democratic senators? "What this means," Daschle sniped, "is that in the case where you have both Democratic senators representing the state, or even in the case where you have one Democratic senator representing the state, if that senator hasn’t signed off on that nominee there will not be a confirmation vote." -- Daschle immediately opposing President Bush’s plan to explore strategic missile defense? "A missile defense system," said Daschle, "that undermines our nation politically, economically and strategically -- without providing any real security -- is no defense at all." Query: just what is it about America that Daschle doesn’t believe is worthy of protecting from foreign attack? -- Daschle being among the more than 200 Democrats who snubbed President Bush’s offer for lunch at the White House? There is more, much more, I assure you, but suffice it to say that Senator Daschle’s first 100 days with President Bush have been dedicated to opposing him at every turn. That's bipartisanship, Daschle style.