The Democrats’ repeated charge that President Bush broke his 2000 campaign promise to be a uniter, not a divider, is fundamentally dishonest and wrongheaded, as is their insistence following this election, that he begin the healing process.
In the 2000 campaign, President Bush promised to reach out to Democrats if elected. And based on his record as Texas governor, this wasn’t just empty talk.
When he took office, he didn’t initiate any rash partisan actions like President Clinton did when — through Janet Reno — he summarily fired all 93 of the country’s United States attorneys before their replacements were secured.
By contrast, President Bush didn’t fire Clinton CIA Director George Tenet, even after the War on Terror became the consuming issue of his presidency. He approached Tenet with an open mind, not a partisan heart.
On the education bill, President Bush not only reached out to Senator Kennedy personally, he accorded him great deference in drafting the “No Child Left Behind Act.” In return, Kennedy stabbed him in the back, denouncing him as an intransigent partisan. Not only was that a personal betrayal, it was a calculated distortion of the highest order.
Consequently, Kennedy got the best of both worlds. He achieved 90 percent of his education agenda (angering many conservatives), yet still excoriated President Bush for being a miserly, uncharitable Republican ogre for not going far enough.
President Bush got no credit for his overtures to this partisan ingrate or for his genuine efforts to “set a new tone” in Washington. As usual, the Old Media spewed the Democrat propaganda that President Bush was a shrill partisan.
Democrats, in the meantime, while falsely condemning President Bush for his “partisanship,” proceeded to engage in the most egregious partisan obstruction in recent history, especially with the attempted wholesale usurpation of his judicial appointment power, using the filibuster weapon to block his judicial nominees.
Having deluded themselves into believing Bush had stolen the presidency, they lambasted President Bush for four years straight, with a short hiatus following 9-11. Democrats were firing all the partisan volleys — incessantly calling Bush a liar, racist, homophobe, and corrupt benefactor of big corporations and rich individuals — and Bush was the one tagged as a partisan. It was right out of the Twilight Zone.
It was hard to stomach the Democrats’ allegation that Bush broke his promise to be a uniter, since he did try to unite and they wouldn’t let him. It takes two to play that game.
Similarly, their post-election demand that President Bush extend a bipartisan hand to heal the nation’s wounds really means that he should adopt major parts of their agenda or greatly dilute parts of his own.
And the Democrats’ claim that President Bush doesn’t have a mandate means that they refuse to accept their defeat. President Bush won the popular vote 51 percent to 48 percent. Under our constitution, that means he has as much authority as if he’d won by a 30 percent margin. He won running on his agenda — not 51 percent of it — and against Kerry’s agenda.
His victory doesn’t mean he should only try to implement 51 percent of his agenda. It means that he’s entitled, indeed obligated, to try to achieve 100 percent of it. Any less would be a fraud and a breach of his campaign pledges. His supporters didn’t vote for him believing he only meant half of what he said. We have representative government, not government by plebiscite.
Under our system it is up to the Democrats now, as the opposition party, to lobby for their position through the process, which does not mean employing dirty tricks such as the filibuster, but vigorously advocating and exercising their rights within the system.
And when the president does try to implement his agenda, it will not mean he’s being divisive, but that he’s fulfilling his constitutional duty and honoring his trust with the voters.
For all the slander President Bush received from Democrats during the last four years, do you remember him ever reciprocating with comparable displays of disrespect for his opponents? You don’t, because he was always a gentleman.
It’s time for Democrats to quit berating him and falsely accusing him of lying. It’s time for them to start heeding their own advice and getting used to the fact that he won, fairly and squarely.
They would do well to understand that the highest goal in politics and governance is not to hold hands and get along, but to govern according to the principles and positions upon which you were elected.
But if it’s healing they want, perhaps they should stop inflicting harm.