Wednesday, November 8, 2006

If power shifts, solutions needed, not recriminations

If party control of the U.S. House changes hands as the result of Tuesday's election, some Democrats will hunger for a chance to pay back Republicans for several years of parliamentary humiliations.

But this won't benefit the country, which is beset and bedeviled by monumental problems that will require vision, skill, courage and, above all, the cooperation of two political parties?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who could be the new Speaker, wisely rejected any notion that Democrats would stage an impeachment hanging party for President Bush. If in these morning-after Election Day hours Democrats are popping champagne corks, they should also vow to work together toward solutions, not recriminations.

Iraq tops the list. The victory that President Bush boasts is attainable seems to be a fantasy. The bloody internecine fighting between Shiites and Sunnis is not civil war to the White House, but to everyone else it is. Congress must persuade the president that withdrawal is inevitable; only when and how are the unanswered questions.

Parallel to this must be the firing or resignation of Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose obsession with failed strategies has led to hundreds of more GI deaths, more civil chaos and bloodshed and betrayal of troops who expected a winning plan. Rumsfeld's timeline of victory by 2010 is delusion and a blueprint for dooming thousands more American troops to death by an inept tactician whose refusal to accept reality is being condemned by retiring generals and admirals as well as troops trapped in the fighting.

Then, Congress should enable the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. It warned at the top of its lungs that vulnerable mainland targets remain unsecured—chemical plants, ports, communications networks and hubs, transcontinental fuel pipelines, electrical transmission grids. Congress should pressure the White House to comply with the commission's persuasive recommendations.

Resentment of ordinary Americans about the privileged tax cuts ladled out to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans is a signal to Congress. It should rewrite the tax schedule and remove unreasonable breaks for the wealthiest.

Finally, poll after poll has found most Americans by wide margins reject and disapprove of so-called "values" legislation pandering to religious groups. The new Congress should take this voter revolt seriously and turn to lawmaking that strengthens the nation's economy, security and finances, rather than mollifying evangelicals with laws that have no place in a constitutional democracy.

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