Getting along

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Together, we have a chance to serve the American people by solving the complex problems that many don't expect us to tackle, let alone solve, in the partisan environment of today's Washington. To do that, however, we can't play politics as usual. Democrats will control the House and Senate, and therefore we share the responsibility for what we achieve. -- President Bush in The Wall Street Journal

The president's effort to establish a tone of cooperation between the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Republican White House reflects what many Americans would like to see happen. It is the same opportunity for give and take that Democrats sought -- but too often did not receive -- when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House.

Ideally, the president's call for cooperating and sharing "the responsibility for what we achieve" would strike a chord with federal legislators who are elected to serve the best interests of their constituents. But the practical reality is that Democrats will take as much advantage of their congressional majority as possible to enhance both their future re-election and the aspirations of their party's presidential hopefuls.

All of which means this Congress, while attempting to score political points, could be the least productive session in recent memory. While the House or Senate may be able to pass headline-grabbing bills, the margins of approval aren't likely to be veto-proof, leaving little but bluster in the way of accomplishments.

Partisan politics and the two-party system have served this nation well. But the best legislation is the product of debate and compromise aimed at producing the best results. Attempts by either party to shut out opposing viewpoints show the worst side of our system.

We hope the president and House Speaker Pelosi are sincere in their pledges to work together, but we are not optimistic.

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