Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Uniter, Not a Divider?

The press has been spending a lot of time wondering about whether the Democrats will work with Republicans now that they have won majorities in both houses of Congress. The better question is whether President Bush will decide that now is the time to finally fulfill his six year old pledge to unite, not divide, Americans.

It may be interesting to remember President Bush's bipartisan efforts after he won re-election in 2004. Or, as Borat might say, Not!!!

President Bush crowed about "political capital" he had earned, and intended to spend. He promptly embarked on a quixotic attempt to privatize Social Security that didn't win support within his own party, let alone the opposition.

In the days since the 2006 election, President Bush has signalled he still believes in going it alone, announcing he will try to push controversial measures (like retroactively approving warrantless wiretapping and confirming John Bolton as ambassador to the UN) through a lame duck session of Congress before the newly elected Congress begins its work in January.

This is probably a no-go. As in 2004, both Republicans and Democrats reject Bush's agenda. Outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) has said he will not permit the Bolton nomination to be pushed through. Senator Leahy (D-VT) has raised serious concerns about an attempt to reroactively ok warrantless wiretapping.

Of course, political realities can change quickly. But as of now, if President Bush continues to choose unilateralism, he will become an irrelevancy.


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