Bush sends a partisan agenda to Congress
WASHINGTON -- President Bush made nice with the Democrats for the television cameras after they won control of Congress, complete with pictures filled with handshakes, smiles and vows of working together. He even tossed Secretary of Defense Donal...
WASHINGTON -- President Bush made nice with the Democrats for the television cameras after they won control of Congress, complete with pictures filled with handshakes, smiles and vows of working together. He even tossed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld over the side, making many people think that maybe he was going to move more toward the center and reach out for bipartisan openings.
But the agenda he's sent to Congress since then is full of Republican proposals that have no chance of winning bipartisan approval, enrage Democrats, rally his conservative base and appear to be intended to paint Democrats as obstructionist.
Bush has resubmitted several judicial nominations that had been blocked before last week's elections. He's asked again that the Senate confirm John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. And he's urged approval of warrantless eavesdropping on suspected terrorists without any accommodation to Democrats' demands that a court sign off on the spying.
None of these proposals is expected to win approval in the lame-duck session of the Republican Congress, and all are assured of defeat when the Democrats take over in January.
Bush's proposals could be simply his opening bid in what would be a tough round of negotiations with the Democrats. Or they could be a political gambit designed to frame the Democrats early on as obstructionists.
Either way, they contradict the initial post-election image that indicated Bush was ready to reach out to Democrats.
"I intend to work with the new Congress in a bipartisan way," he said the day after the election. "The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner and work together to address the challenges facing our nation."
Then this week Bush sent to the Senate four appellate court nominations that waved a red flag before Democratic bulls. They included:
* U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle of North Carolina, who's been blocked for years by Democrats who accuse him of being hostile to civil rights and often overruled by higher courts.
* William Haynes, a former Pentagon general counsel to Rumsfeld, who's been assailed by Democrats for his role in crafting Bush administration policies on detentions and treatment of suspected enemy combatants.
* Michael Wallace, aprivate-practice attorney from Mississippi who was rated unqualified by the American Bar Association and who's been criticized by Democrats as being hostile to civil rights and to the poor.
* William Myers, a mining lobbyist from Idaho who's opposed by environmentalists.
Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas, said he doubts that either side would be successfully or permanently scarred as obstructionist or face a backlash from voters at this early stage, still two years from the next election. Thus, he said, "Bush probably thinks it's too soon to sing 'Kumbaya' with the Democrats."