"I hope that in this term," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "President Bush will fulfill his renewed promise to be a uniter, not a divider."
Don't look now, but Bush is doing some uniting.
Notice, for example, the absence of hysteria when the so-called ban against assault weapons expired. Sure, candidate Kerry, on the campaign trail, warned that the expiration of the ban makes "the job of terrorists easier and made the job of America's law-enforcement officers harder." But, for the most part, Kerry did not make this into a campaign issue. Why? Democrats know that, in 2000, presidential candidate Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, in part, because of Tennesseans' opposition to further gun control.
What about the divisive issue of abortion? "I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary," said former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, "any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties. . . . The test is basic -- any person who thinks it's his or her job to push an extreme political agenda rather than to interpret the law should not be a Supreme Court justice." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, stated, "I am and always have been pro-choice, and that is not a right any of us should take for granted. There are a number of forces at work in our society that would try to turn back the clock and undermine a woman's right to choose, and [we] must remain vigilant." And the 2004 Democratic Party platform says, "Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay."
But with whom do the Democrats intend to replace the defeated liberal outgoing Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota? Harry Reid, D-Nevada. Who is Harry Reid? He calls himself pro-life. NARAL, formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, gives Reid a mere 29 percent favorability rating. Contrast that with Daschle's 50 percent. Reid even supports mining interests against environmentalists.
Whether soon-to-be outgoing Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe realizes it, the Democratic Party seems to be shifting toward the center -- Bush's center.
Even more telling, a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll gives President Bush a personal favorability rating of 60 percent, and 55 percent now approve of his job. And what about "divisive," "extremist," "lightning rods" like National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and especially outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft? The poll gives Rice a 63 percent favorable rating, versus 26 percent unfavorable; Rumsfeld a 51 percent favorable rating, versus 39 percent unfavorable, and Ashcroft received a 50 percent favorable rating, versus 37 percent unfavorable. Indeed, White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales recently praised his outgoing boss, "I will work hard to build upon [Ashcroft's] record."
Some called "hateful" Bush's proposal for an amendment to ban gay marriage. But most Americans -- 62 percent, according to recent polls -- oppose same-sex marriage. Forty-three states passed laws that restrict marriage to opposite sex couples, while an increasing number allow civil unions or domestic partnerships (something the president says he supports).
Even on the War in Iraq, most Americans believe that, having started down this path, a failed Iraq poses more risks than it solves. Current polls show 48 percent of Americans support the War in Iraq, and 46 percent oppose it. Our commitment in Iraq figures to be long-term, but Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terrorist who authorities believe plays a major role in the Iraqi "insurgency," recently posted a message on an Islamic Web site. Zarqawi blamed what he called the Fallujah "slaughter" on the failure of Muslims to rally against the "occupying infidels": "Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence. You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy. You have stopped supporting the holy warriors."
Americans intend to stay the course. For we recognize, as Rice put it, the War on Terror promises to be a generational one.
What about the rest of the world? Yes, polls show that many French and Germans loathe Bush, dislike America's dominance and foreign policy, and even boycott American products and services. But the Bush administration just successfully pressured the 19 member nations of the Paris Club -- including Germany and France -- to forgive 80 percent of the $39 billion owed them by Iraq. The Bush administration also got Jordan to assist in the training of Iraqi military personnel.
Not bad for a divider.