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McCain can show how bipartisanship works

Fri, Nov 7th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The election is now one for the history books. The pundits and party faithful of both sides are busy analyzing and rationalizing the results.

McCain was correct during the campaign - he is not George W. Bush. No matter who was elected change would happen. Change certainly happened over the last eight years. The problem with the administration and congressional Republicans has been the "my way or the highway" and "you are either with me or you are evil" attitude and behavior.

Under George Bush, those who questioned or opposed his policies were unpatriotic. The public has responded by electing a man who appears to be able to listen to criticism and opposition with the attitude he may learn something useful from his detractors.

Unfortunately, this election purge of narrow minds did not trickle down the ticket far enough in many cases. Michelle Bachman, a Bush acolyte, revealed her true colors on MSNBC by questioning the loyalty of Barack Obama and an undefined number of members of Congress who apparently have had disagreements with her ideology.

She brought back visions of McCarthyism. She continued in that vein during her victory speech after being re-elected by promising to "fight" a yet to be defined Democratic agenda. She still sees the world as black and white, good and evil, for and against, with nothing in between. She will yet become an embarrassment to Minnesota again.

It is unfortunate for the country that it appears the gains made by the Democrats in Congress were at the expense of the more centrist Republicans who were either defeated or retired. Senators like John Sununu and Chuck Hagel for instance. This leaves the red side of the aisle with more fervid partisans.

John McCain gave the most gracious and helpful concession speech I have ever heard. It was far and away his best speech of the last 20 months. I hope the Republican Party takes it to heart. I have some doubts.

Republicans hold enough seats to continue to filibuster the Senate. During the last two years they used the filibuster 95 times which, I understand, is a record for a two year period. If this continues and thwarts all initiatives that are not laden with amendment perks for individual Senators we are in for a long slog.

Republicans need to junk this ideology of division by using hot button issues like religion, guns, sexual orientation, and suppression of reproductive rights of women. There is nothing wrong with a strong defense, limited government, and fiscal responsibility.

A strong defense does not mean invading a small country that could not possibly militarily threaten the continental U.S. Especially when almost all of the rest of the world cannot be convinced of a threat.

Limited government does not mean dismantling Americans' safety nets. No parent should have to take a child to Nebraska and abandon them before they get help. No American city should wait years for reconstruction after a hurricane while we spend millions a week reconstructing countries we have bombed back to the Stone Age. Over one fifth of the population of the richest country in the world should not be uninsured or underinsured for a medical catastrophe.

Fiscal responsibility does not mean bailing out financial institutions without safeguards to insure that the greed and incompetence that placed them in jeopardy is not rewarded with executive bonuses and stockholder dividends. It does not include borrowing money to finance military adventures while cutting taxes, especially for the most affluent. It does not include creative bookkeeping that hides debt by off-budget emergency funding.

If McCain's concession speech was heartfelt, and I think it was, he may well be President elect Obama's best friend in the Senate. He may very well serve the nation better there as a maverick than in the White House.

Robert Sauer of Preston can be reached at r.sauer@mchsi.com

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