Post-Election Etiquette

The sheer pleasure of getting lessons in etiquette from Karl Rove and the right-wing media passeth all understanding. Ever since 1994, the Republican Party has gone after Democrats with the frenzy of a foaming mad dog. There was the impeachment of Bill Clinton, not to mention the trashing of both Clinton and his wife -- accused of everything from selling drugs to murder -- all orchestrated by that paragon of manners, Tom DeLay.

Media Matters collected some gems of fairness. For instance, Monica Crowley with MSNBC, in the wake of John Kerry's botched program, astutely observed "how lucky we are that he was not elected president. ... The Republicans remain the grown-ups, the responsible ones on national security."

How many dead Americans has this grown-up war resulted in?

And how darling of Fox's Juan Williams, upon learning polls show the people favor Democrats on taxes, to say, "To me, that's crazy."

And how many times did Chris Matthews use the Republican talking points about Nancy Pelosi? Extremist, uncooperative, incapable, unwilling to work with the president.

So after 12 years of tolerating lying, cheating and corruption, the press is prepared to lecture Democrats on how to behave with bipartisan manners.

Given Bush's record with the truth, this bipartisanship sounds like a bad idea on its face. Go back to the first year of the administration, when Bush double-crossed Ted Kennedy in the No Child Left Behind Act. Think about it: You've said at the outset of your administration that you need cooperation to get anything done. Then you double-cross one of the senior senators of the other party when your re-education and labor agenda is dependent on him?

These people are not only dishonest -- they're not even smart. Not that I recommend nailing them at every turn, but I wouldn't be surprised if they try to do it to Democrats. If what Republicans have been practicing is bipartisanship, West Texas just flooded.

O.K., here's what the D's have going for them. New kids. Easy, popular first moves -- for example, increasing the minimum wage. Republicans so inept that it's painful. You want to look at some really, really basic legislation, try fixing the Medicare prescription drug bill. Or the bankruptcy bill. Or new dollar and trade policies.

Then we get to the real meat of this election. There are all manner of shuffle steps and politically shrewd thing for the D's to do. But now is not the time to be clever. The Democrats won this election because we are involved in a disastrous war. We know how to do this: Declare victory, and go home.

I noticed when Republicans are forced to talk about how to end this, they tend to announce that it's all hopeless: They have no ideas at all. Thanks, guys. Of all the options, I would say splitting Iraq into three states is least advisable. First, it puts us in the position of screwing the Kurds once again. Second, Turkey has serious objections to a Kurdistan. Third, Turkey is not a militia. Fourth, it gives Iran and Saudi Arabia a pawn apiece. And there'd be an unimaginable amount of future hassle.

Do I have any good ideas? Yes, but it's not a solution. We need to start the Middle East peace process again. Because it's the right thing to do. Because it's what Bush should have done to begin with. Because we have to start somewhere.

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