Saturday, November 11, 2006

Moderation and the Center

Among the many op/ed pieces published tomorrow will be two of note in the New York Times. The first is from Leon E. Panetta -- a former Democratic representative, director of the office of management and budget, and White House chief of staff -- who suggests that the Democrats ought to stop gloating and start governing.
We govern our democracy either by leadership or by crisis. Last Tuesday, the American people sent a clear message that they are sick and tired of government by crisis. They elected Democrats to the House and Senate not to prolong gridlock, but to govern.

There are those who believe that the best political strategy for 2008 is for the Democrats to continue to confront President Bush and seal his fate as a failed president. The danger, however, is that if the Democrats become nothing more than a party of obstruction, it will be only a matter of time before they too will lose the trust of the American people. The lesson of this election is that the public will no longer tolerate incompetence and gridlock, whether it comes from the Republicans or the Democrats.
Mr. Panetta calls for those on both sides of the aisle to work together, find common ground, and meet in the center.

The second piece is from Lincoln D. Chafee, the current senator from Rhode Island. He's not the senator from Rhode Island much longer. Senator Chafee writes,
Last Tuesday, I was one of the many moderate Republican casualties of the anti-Bush virulence that swept the country. Despite my having voted against the Iraq war resolution, my reputation for independence, the editorial endorsement of virtually every newspaper in my state, and a job approval rating of 63 percent, I did not win. Why?
And then Senator Chafee goes on to write about a meeting back in December 2000, "after one of the closest elections in our nation’s history," between then Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and a small group of centrist Republicans, Senator Chafee among the group.

The Senator writes in his op/ed piece:
As we sat in Senator Specter’s cozy hideaway office and discussed the coming session, I was startled to hear the vice president dismiss suggestions of compromise and instead emphasize an aggressively partisan agenda that included significant tax cuts, the abandonment of international agreements and a muscular, unilateral foreign policy.

I was incredulous. Instead of a new atmosphere of cooperation and civility which, after all, had been the promise of the Bush-Cheney campaign, we seemed ready to return to the poisonous partisanship that marked the Republican-Congress — Clinton White House years.
Senator Chafee concludes by writing,
I hope the new Congress and the administration that received, in the president’s words, “a thumping,” can find common ground for the common good.
Damn straight.

But, I fear that the partisans will win out and that divisivenesses will be the rule of the day from both sides of the aisle.

May I be wrong. Please.

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