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Democrats need to call for more than revenge
Scripps Howard News Service


May 12, 2006

WASHINGTON - If you are one who believes returning control of the House to the Democrats this fall would bring some civility back to Capitol Hill, perhaps you should reassess your thinking. From every indication the venomous partisanship would not only not disappear but increase in ferocity, at least for the next two years.

House Democratic leaders have practically assured us of that as their prospects have soared, promising a series of investigations into President Bush's handling of everything from the conduct of the two wars, terrorism and Iraq, to formulation of energy policy. One senior Democrat, the seemingly perpetually angry John Conyers of Michigan who would head the House Judiciary Committee in event of a Democratic victory, is even openly talking about hearings to impeach the president.

More disturbing is the rhetoric of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, whose tenure as the first woman to hold the post has included a daily spewing of vitriol at the White House and her counterparts in the GOP. Should the party win in November, the San Francisco representative would be expected to become the first woman elected speaker, a position that is third in the line of presidential succession.

In announcing plans for a return to power, a confident Pelosi promised the launching of a series of inquiries but reportedly denied there was any plan to impeach Bush as the Republicans have charged. Or did she really? In fact, she said in reply to the impeachment question, that one never knows where these investigations might lead, leaving little doubt that this is just what is in the back of her mind. That, of course, is the rule of "what goes around comes around" under which both parties have operated perhaps forever but certainly during the last 40 years as events from rancorous Supreme Court nominations to forcing out presidents have amply demonstrated.

So if the Republicans are going to try to overturn an election by ousting Bill Clinton from the Oval Office through an ill-advised impeachment and trial, watch out when the Democrats regain control if there is a Republican in the White House. Where does all this political tit for tat leave Americans who expect these clowns to represent them with some measure of equanimity for the good of all? The answer seems to be two more years of doing very little to solve the nation's problems.

Full-fledged hearings into such ho-hum questions as what energy executives had input to Vice President Cheney's energy policy task force during Bush's first term or how the administration messed up on the issue of Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction would only delay badly needed solutions. Besides, the courts have ruled several times that the White House does not have to reveal those consulted by Cheney and the WMD issue has been investigated ad nauseam by one official panel after another and by the press.

While scandals and failed efforts to win Social Security reform parallel those that brought about a Republican House majority after 42 years in the minority, there are some missing ingredients for certain Democrat success this election. These include the lack of a coherent plan of action from the minority party about immigration, energy needs, practical health care and a variety of other issues. Also, missing is any real consensus among its members about how to handle Iraq without undercutting U.S. troops.

Rather than promising to punish the White House and the GOP for what the polls show is an increasing public dismay over the way they are running things at home and abroad, Pelosi and Conyers and company need to promise to end the incivility and to bring the country together, to improve the atmosphere for constructive, conciliatory politics. Otherwise they lend credence to the claims of their political nemesis, Karl Rove, that they have no plans other than to further disrupt the nation with a vengeful strategy to impeach Bush and overturn an election.

"We have to be ready to win," Pelosi was quoted as saying recently in the wake of encouraging poll numbers, "and we have to tell voters what we do when we win."

So tell them. But tell them about how to solve their problems at home and end a war and eliminate dependency on foreign oil. They don't want to hear about disruptive investigations into things that can't be changed. They are angry about a lot of things, including the anger in politics.


Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Scripps Howard News Service.

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