Politics & Policy

Bipartisan Tone Deaf

Back to war.

The bipartisan tone President-elect Bush hopes to bring to Washington has been drowned out by the sound of Beltway wolves devouring Linda Chavez. Bush’s erstwhile Labor secretary withdrew her nomination Tuesday after ABC reported that in 1991 she hosted Marta Mercado, a battered woman who entered America illegally from Guatemala, a nation then ripped by civil war.

Ironically, the same liberals who call conservatives mean and cold-hearted still opposed Chavez after discovering that she offered Mercado housing and occasional spending money and helped her find outside work and English classes. An appreciative Mercado sometimes performed chores around Chavez’s home.

Chavez should have shared all this with Bush earlier. Still, he should have stood with her, demanded a Senate vote and dared Democrats to reject a compassionate nominee who cared for a woman in trouble. Bush and Chavez might have lost, but even their critics would have respected them for fighting until the end. Chavez’s generosity to immigrants (including Vietnamese refugees and a pair of Puerto Rican kids in New York whose Catholic schooling she has financed) might have won her sympathy and, perhaps, confirmation.

Chavez now understands that no good deed goes unpunished. Republicans soon will learn the same lesson, despite the lovely bouquets they have handed Democrats:

‐Bush’s philosophically and culturally diverse cabinet includes blacks, Hispanics, Americans of Asian and Arab ancestry and even moderate, pro-choice Republicans such as EPA nominee Christie Todd Whitman. Inbound Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is both a Democrat and President Clinton’s current Commerce secretary.

‐As the Florida recount controversy raged, Republican Senate leader Trent Lott could have made Democrats consider a House-endorsed measure to allow GIs to vote at on-base precincts. Democrats either would have supported easing soldiers’ access to the polls or exposed themselves as weapons-grade hypocrites for wanting to “count every vote” in Florida while keeping it inconvenient for many active service members to cast future ballots. Ever accommodating, Lott let the bill die without even bringing it up for consideration.

‐Lott says he wants “nonpartisanship, Americanship” in the evenly split Senate. His power-sharing deal with Democratic leader Tom Daschle gives Democrats and Republicans equal representation on committees. With Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote, Lott could have led Republicans to approve an additional GOP seat on each panel.

‐While Chavez was being fried for, at worst, skirting the law to shield an abused woman from deportation, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) urged Bush on Fox News Sunday to pardon President Clinton, a man suspected of obstruction of justice and already fined $90,686 for lying under oath. “I think it’s time to allow the president to finish his term and let him move on and enjoy life,” Bush told reporters, though he promised no pardon.

So how have Democrats and their allies thanked Bush and the GOP for this sleigh full of gifts?

‐As Congress unsealed electoral votes on January 6, about a dozen Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus repeatedly raised objections to Florida’s tally. Then, in a sadly typical display of immaturity, they stormed off the House floor.

‐Jesse Jackson called Marta Mercado’s sojourn at Chavez’s home “indentured servitude” while the New York Times reported that “some” call Chavez “a traitor to her people” for marrying a Jew.

‐Former Clinton adviser Rahm Emanuel told theTimes that the Chavez hit was “spring training” for an assault on other nominees. A coalition of 45 liberal groups declared war on Ashcroft at a Washington news conference Tuesday. Interior nominee Gale Norton should anticipate similar hospitality from environmentalists.

‐Classy to the end, Clinton said in Chicago Tuesday that the only way Republicans “could win the election was to stop the voting in Florida.”

Team Bush’s abandonment of Chavez has taught the now-salivating Left that it can chow down a cabinet appointee simply by unmasking a decade-old act of mercy! Unless Bush taps Alan Dershowitz and Johnnie Cochran for the Supreme Court, his nominees should brace for character assassination. On policy, Chavez’s exit will embolden Bush’s foes to resist his tax cut. Social Security privatization, already an uphill battle, is now akin to a climb up El Capitan.

Bush’s appeal for what he calls “a different tone” is good-natured, kindly, and dangerously naive. Many liberals believe he and his brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, swiped the election. They consider Dubya a dimwit and detest his ideas. While he may want Washington to resemble a Rotary vs. Kiwanis golf tournament, George W. Bush is about to stroll into a four-year episode of WWF Smackdown.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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