back to the land of the bromide

By Robert W. Tracinski

Here is the official line we have heard from pundits and politicians for the past few weeks: It is time to put the "bitterness" and "rancor" of the election contest behind us and instead to "reach across the aisle," to "unify" the nation through "bipartisanship." The one thing that must be avoided, in this view, is any "inflammatory" or "divisive" rhetoric.

These calls for bipartisanship are, in part, driven by normal partisan maneuvering on the part of the Democrats. They failed to regain control of the House of Representatives, one of their major goals in this election, and with Dick Cheney wielding a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, the Democrats don't control that body, either. And with a Republican in the White House, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court is assured for at least two more decades. In short, the Democrats do not control a single branch of the federal government. Their bleating for unity and bipartisanship is, in part, a desperate attempt to avoid being shut out of national politics.

But there is also a deeper cause at work. This can be seen in the fact that the Democratic calls for bipartisanship sound more like threats: Put us in the Cabinet, or else; dole out equal numbers of Senate committee chairmanships, or else. The Democrats do not sound like a minority party desperately pleading with the majority. There is a confidence behind their threats that is not justified by their numbers. And despite their election victory, the Republicans have been in retreat, eagerly promising to meet all of the Democrats' demands.

What accounts for this confidence on the part of the defeated-and this timidity on the part of the victors?



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