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Should Americans Trust Bush’s Call For “Goodwill And Respect”?

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another — and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong — and together we will make it stronger.

– President Bush, State of the Union, 2006

Should the president be taken at his word? Or is this empty spin designed to appease a nationwide television audience?

In the first five years of Bush’s presidency, it’s as if Republican politicians and the conservative noise machine have defined “bipartisanship” as “my way or the highway.”

If Democrats are willing to agree with Republicans, that’s bipartisanship. If Democrats want to go a different way, that’s a time for Republicans to turn to name-calling and misrepresentation of ideas — otherwise known as “partisanship.”

Earlier yesterday, Sean Hannity demonstrated this definition of bipartisanship vs. partisanship on his nationally syndicated radio show. Interviewing liberal pundit Arianna Huffington, Hannity showed off his skill as a conservative spin-meister.

He asked Huffington a series of pointed questions, which fit in well with conservative spin. Here’s the gist of Hannity’s questions — questions being posed throughout the conservative noise machine:

– Support Bush’s handling of the war on terror? Or do you want to let Al Qaeda run amok?

– Support Bush’s handling of the Iraq War? Or do you want to cut and run?

– Support warrantless surveillance? Or do you not want to gather intelligence?

– Support Bush’s judicial nominees? Or do you want liberal activist judges?

– Support Bush’s handling of the economy? Or are you a tax-and-spend liberal?

– Support Bush? Or are you a Bush-hater?

These kind of questions are just grown-up versions of the kinds of things schoolyard bullies say. They are black-and-white questions designed to offer no alternatives.

Either you’re with us or you’re against us. Either you support the Iraq war or you support Saddam (or as Hannity would say, “Either you believe Iraqis are better as a free democracy, or you support their living in tyranny under Saddam.”) Either you support the war on terror, or you want to coddle Osama Bin Laden.

That’s the sort of partisanship that has occurred over the past five-plus years of Bush as president. It’s led Vice President Cheney to meet only with the Republican leadership to plan out a legislative agenda. It’s led the White House to confer with select Republican leaders on issues such as warrantless surveillance. There’s no spirit of bipartisanship, let alone the execution of such.

If President Bush wants to change the Washington culture, and be a “uniter, not a divider,” as he suggested when he was candidate Bush back in 2000, great. He’ll find willing partners among the Democrats. But if it’s more of “my way or the highway,” then he should expect more of the same response.

There’s another reason Bush and the Republicans should reach out across the aisle. Beyond helping the country — in theory, the reason they chose elected office — the reality is that with mid-term elections barely nine months away, the Republicans can’t afford to have their popularity drop any further. And the American people are increasingly blaming the Republicans for whatever failures they see — from high gas prices to mounting casualties in Iraq.

We’ll know in a few months whether the above statement from Bush’s address was empty spin or an outstretched arm. Democrats know what they’d prefer.

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This item first appeared at JABBS

About David R. Mark

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I would not trust George Bush to tell me the correct time.

  • Bryan Chuk

    I feel sad to see that Bush has been unpopular with those people who don’t understand God and believe in the Bible. They are lost souls (the unsaved unless they convert) who don’t have an idea what is going to happen and what is going to happen—to them. These heathens don’t have any hope and they are doomed to eternal death.
    They don’t believe the veracity of the Bible–the Word of God. As a born-again Christian, if there is anything I am to boast about, I would like to boast that I know God–Jesus Christ. I would like to boast that I have a relationship with Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour/Lord.
    I feel proud of having a president who is also
    a born-again Christian (George W Bush), who is
    a man of faith and knows what he is doing. For those who alleges that George Bush is not true or genuine believer in Christ, including those of whom who are Christians themselves, I would like to suggest that they are not to judge God and God’s servants with their own “theologies”
    or “philosophies”. We know that both President Reagan and Eisenhower were believers when they were alive, and that they are with the Lord in the paradise now, and they will be raised back alive the day when Jesus comes again (Rapture).
    This fact is plain to all those who believe in God and are His children. Non-Christians don’t believe that because they are not the children of God. Numerous atheists and agnostics attack George Bush and his religion, because they are
    ignorant and not part of the elect (maybe they are if they will convert later). A minority of Christians in America and many Christians away from America criticize George Bush even to the point of dismissing him as a con Christian and liar not because they don’t believe in God but probably because they are jealous of his power and privileges as both President of the United States and Children of God. To say that George Bush is not a born-again Christian and that he is not saved yet is no difference to believing that Billy Graham or John Winthrop are unsaved and liars. No doubt that George Bush is saved, Christian, and a man of faith and he will have his eternity spent in the glorious presence of God, and he is secure forever–already, and is on track to completing his mission assigned by His Lord on earth with honour. Power are given from above (Divine Mandate on emperors, rulers and kings), to oppose him is to create trouble for the trouble-makers themselves. Granted the privilege of freedom of speech and expressions in this era of democracy, and given the chance to express my opinions so conveniently online, both of which I want to take advantage of, I’d like to state that I never believe in the idea of the popular sovereignty. If one is in power he is appointed by God and God alone, even yes it can take place through democratic elections or else.

  • Steve

    Two points…
    First, on not trusting Bush:

    If Bush lied re. the reasons for going into the Iraq war (e.g. weapons of WMD), then it must be admitted that so did the other countries’ intelligence communities who gave the US the same faulty info.

    But then, if that’s the case, how come no one appears to be complaining about the other countries lying to the U.S. about WMD’s???? It’s one thing to suggest that one country (U.S.) lied to it’s people…but, if as seems logical to conclude, the other countries lied to the US about WMD’s as well, surely we have a far bigger problem, do we not??? But I haven’t heard a peep about that!!!

    In fact, the Left is worried about offending it’s ‘allies’ who lied to their govt. about WMD’s!!!

    What’s wrong with this picture??? As per usual, the Left is left looking very illogical in their criticisms. (I was going to say ‘partisan’, though I don’t think that word is necessarily intended to mean illogical but maybe the times are changing lol).

    (For the record, I don’t believe the American public were lied to re. WMD’s, just a mistake, made much easier to make in the understandably paranoid aftermath of 9/11).

    Secondly, speaking as a Canadian, your two party system does not seem to provide very many options for its politicians.

    What I mean is, if a politician takes a party line position on an issue, he is considered being faithful by his base, or by opponents as hopelessly partisan. Conversely, if he compromises on an issue, his base may consider him as ‘having no principles’ but his opponents may call him bipartisan.
    I’m thankful I’m not a U.S. politician lol. At least in a muti-party system like Canada’s, compromise is easier, because most people realise there are more than two positions to choose from on alot of issues.

  • gonzo marx

    well then…here’s an easy one for you

    Bush stood there and claimed to still “be on track” for halving the deficit by 2009

    according to the Congressional Budget Office…such is impossible to achieve currently, especially due to the spending in Iraq among other things

    one would think the White House would have those accurate budget numbers…

    oh , wait..that’s right..they don’t count either Iraq or Afghanistan in the budget…silly me

    even so..they still miss the numbers…go and look it up yourself

    Excelsior!

  • david r. mark

    Bryan, we live in a secular nation. This isn’t a theocracy. So I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Nothing in the original article refers to Bush’s personal religion — and his personal religion should not contribute to how people view his presidency.

  • david r. mark

    Steve, all I’m asking is that there be a true “bipartisan” nature to Washington (and by default, to the pundit class). What we have now from the Republicans, I believe, is “either your bipartisan and agree with us, or you’re a Bush-hating, terrorist-coddling, Saddam-loving anti-American and against us.” Those shouldn’t be the only choices.

  • david r. mark

    Funny that the powers that be didn’t include this item in their round-up of BC items on the State of the Union. Hmmm.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    David, your article arrived after the roundup was written. So did mine. It’s not a conspiracy.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    oh , wait..that’s right..they don’t count either Iraq or Afghanistan in the budget…silly me

    As we’ve been over before, this is not true. The war expenses are included in the budget, except for any extraordinary appropriations, which end up added into the next year’s budget. None of the money is actually ‘off the books’ as you and others have incorrectly asserted.

    Dave

  • david r. mark

    Fair enough. You and I will just have to debate the hell out of this in order to move it into the Top 5 Hot Topics — round-up be damned!

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    teve, all I’m asking is that there be a true “bipartisan” nature to Washington (and by default, to the pundit class).

    This is pretty laughable coming from the most relentlessly partisan blogger around.

    Dave

  • david r. mark

    I’ve never tried to take a “you’re with us or you’re against us” approach.

    I have an opinion. I share it. I welcome opposing arguments, and have changed my opinion if/when someone provides other facts to consider. I don’t change my opinion when the opposing viewpoint is little more than name-calling, gross stereotyping or fact-less opinion.

  • zingzing

    this bryan guy is insane. have you ever seen such a thing? wasn’t there a time when a catholic couldn’t get into office? bryan, have you seen what a true religious regime can do? hmm? look at the islamic nations that we have the biggest problems with. what did bush say, “ruled by a small clerical elite?” he didn’t say that in a good way. religion + politics = nasty.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    You can assert anything you like, David. The rest of us have seen what you write and can judge for ourselves.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    this is too fucking funny…

    Dave and David…two sides of the exact same coin

    both provide links to their factoids, both have good brains

    but they can look at the same facts and see two different things

    oh the Irony…

    oh the Humanity…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Yes, but only one of us is carrying on an active attack campaign against the president.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    true Mr Nalle…but you have stated “anytime is good to bash Dems” and other such sentiments

    might i suggest your article with Keyy in the title for counterpoint?

    many other occasions where you use ANY opportunity to blanket bash “dems” and “leftists” in specific and in general

    NO difference…

    just a Thought

    Excelsior!