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November 20, 2002 -- Jeff Gannon: Dems Call For Bipartisanship

You can always tell when the Democrats lose an election. Quickly following the final accusation of vote suppression, comes the call from the vanquished for "bipartisanship". So it was in this week's Democratic response to the President's radio address by Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, newly selected as the House minority whip. It seemed like a repeat of 2000, when the Republicans gained the Presidency, held onto the House and kept the Senate by the slimmest possible margin. Those same voices called for not only bipartisanship, but power-sharing in the narrowly divided Senate.

All that kind of talk stopped when the Senate Democrats managed to engineer in the cloakroom what they could not achieve in the voting booth with the defection of Jim Jeffords. Suddenly, the word was dropped from the lexicon of the now illegitimate majority. The Democratic Senate then embarked upon the most partisan session in recent memory. Legislation that passed the House, like prescription drugs, economic stimulus, terrorism insurance and homeland security, was stymied in the Senate. Votes in the committees were usually along strict party lines, especially in the Judiciary Committee, where nominees rarely made it to the Senate floor for debate or discussion. New York Senator Chuck Schumer boasted of the partisan ideological standards he applied to nominees.

Hoyer's call is particularly ironic considering the House Democrats have chosen Nancy Pelosi as their leader. The San Francisco liberal is one of the most partisan members of the caucus. The American Conservative Union gives the incoming minority leader a lifetime rating of 2, compared to Vermont Socialist congressman Bernie Sanders' rating of 7. Her votes against the Iraq resolution and the Bush tax cut and support for unrestricted abortion and gay marriage are going to be difficult to reconcile with the majority party agenda. The Democrats have convinced themselves that their message wasn't heard in the last election, which has led them to attempt to define themselves as the loyal opposition by becoming as opposite as possible.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd continues to threaten to filibuster the Department of Homeland Security bill, despite the voters' overwhelming support for its passage. Rumblings about a similar treatment of judicial nominees have been heard as well.

So what exactly does "bipartisanship" mean to the Democrats?


Jeff Gannon, The Conservative Guy

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