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
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
-- 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.