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Democrats: OK, let's see you do it
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service


November 13, 2006

Groping for some solace out of last week's voter slap down, some Republicans are saying that this defeat may be in the long-term best interests of their party. They reason that after two years of Democratic control of Congress a chastened electorate will come sobbing back to the Republicans.

They reason that the Democrats won't be able to control their party's special interests, unruly ideologues and rabid anti-Bush partisans. And there may be something to that; at least some Democrats think so too.

That's perhaps why Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi so forcefully spiked the boneheaded notion of some of her followers that President Bush ought to be censured and even impeached.

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Any hopes of accomplishment rest on some sort of accommodation between the White House and majority Democrats, and both Bush and the Democratic leaders quickly moved toward a modus vivendi. Making nice-nice only a day after implying that the one was just short of traitor and the other the next thing to a liar recalled the line that was always truer in Washington than it was in "The Godfather": "It's not personal. It's strictly business."

The initial agenda outlined by Pelosi for next year was modest with no surprises.

The Democrats want a top-level "summit" to develop a new course and strategy in Iraq. This is hardly cut-and-run. They want an increase in the minimum wage, which would have passed in the current Congress if the Republicans hadn't attached repeal of the estate tax to it.

They want federally funded stem cell research, as do many Republicans, and to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. They want to implement the 9/11 commission recommendations and make some college costs tax deductible.

This is hardly the Bolsheviks storming the Winter Palace.

It's true, as the Republicans like to point out, the Democratic committee chairmen will be aging, long-serving '60 and '70s liberals. But the unknown factor is what impact the 28 or so brand new Democratic lawmakers will have on Congress.

As the Republicans know from their own experience in 1994, the freshmen who propelled the party into the majority aren't going to sit quietly and wait their turn. And the newcomers answer to broader constituencies - independents, crossover Republicans - than just traditional Democrats.

And then there's the question of whether congressional Republicans will brave the charge of hypocrisy and be as obstructionist as they've accused the Democrats of being the last six years.

For Democrats, winning may have been the easy part. Governing could prove much harder.


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