Bush, Pelosi vow to co­op­er­ate de­spite rocky past

Prob­a­ble speaker had called the pres­i­dent ‘in­com­pe­tent’, ‘shal­low’ and ‘dan­ger­ous’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Joseph Curl

Pres­i­dent Bush and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the likely speaker of the House, on Nov. 9 buried the hatchet — gen­tly — as the two sat down for an Oval Of­fice lunch af­ter a vit­ri­olic cam­paign that put Democrats in con­trol of Congress for the first time in 12 years.

“Both of us rec­og­nize [. . .] that when you win, you have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do the best you can for the coun­try,” the pres­i­dent said. “The elec­tions are now be­hind us, and the con­gress­woman’s party won. [. . .] There­fore, we’re go­ing to work to­gether to ad­dress those chal­lenges in a con­struc­tive way. We won’t agree on ev­ery is­sue, but [. . .] we will do our very best to ad­dress big prob­lems.”

On a day when Repub­li­cans con­ceded the last two con­tested Se­nate seats and made of­fi­cial the Demo­cratic sweep of Congress, Mrs. Pelosi agreed that the lead­ers at the two ends of Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue wouldn’t agree al­ways — or even of­ten — but of­fered her own olive branch af­ter the bruis­ing cam­paign.

“I look for­ward to work­ing in a con­fi­dence-build­ing way with the pres­i­dent, rec­og­niz­ing that we have our dif­fer­ences and we will de­bate them, and that is what our founders in­tended. But we will do so in a way that gets re­sults for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” she said.

“We’ve made his­tory. Now we have to make progress. And I look for­ward to work­ing with the pres­i­dent to do just that.”

On Nov. 9, Repub­li­can Sens. Ge­orgeAl­lenofVir­gini­aandCon­rad Burns of Mon­tana for­mally ac­knowl­edged de­feat in their re-elec­tion bids, giv­ing the Democrats 49 seatsinthecham­ber.Along­withtwo Demo­crat-leaningin­de­pen­dents,that will make Demo­cratic Sen. Harry Reid of Ne­vada the next ma­jor­ity leader.

“It’s time for re­sults,” Mr. Reid said at a rau­cous cel­e­bra­tory rally Nov. 9 out­side the Capi­tol.

But­the­cam­paign­left­abit­ter­trail be­tween Mr. Bush and Mrs. Pelosi. She­called­him“in­com­pe­tent,”“obliv­i­ous,in­de­nial,dan­ger­ous”and“shal­low,” and of­ten im­plied that he was stupid, a man with “no judg­ment, no ex­pe­ri­ence and no knowl­edge.”

He mocked her as a liar who talked tax cuts but must be a “se­cret ad­mirer” and warned that if she took the helm, “ter­ror­ists win and Amer­ica loses.”

Whenasked­about­theNov.9lunch menu, pres­i­den­tial coun­selor Dan Bartlet­tjokedthat“forthep­res­i­dent, it’s prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit of crow.”

Sincethep­res­i­dentsuf­fered­what he called a “thump­ing” in the Nov. 7 elec­tions, he has al­ready ac­qui­escedtwice­totheSanFran­cis­col­ib­eral’s de­mands. On Nov. 8, he ac­cept­edSec­re­tary­ofDe­fenseDon­ald H. Rums­feld’s res­ig­na­tion, and on Nov.9,he­of­feredano­live­branchby say­ingheis“open­toanyideaor­sug­ges­tion”on­how­to­pros­e­cuteth­e­war against ter­ror and “and en­sur­ing that Iraq’s demo­cratic gov­ern­ment suc­ceeds.”

The new con­cil­ia­tory stance is a far cry from what the pres­i­dent said re­peat­edly on the cam­paign trail.

“This de­bate on Iraq — if you lis­ten­car­e­ful­ly­foraDemocrat­plan­for suc­cess,they­don’thaveone,”he­said aton­er­ally.“How­ev­er­they­putit,the Demo­crat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The ter­ror­ists win and Amer­ica loses. [. . .] The Demo­crat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Repub­li­can goal is to win in Iraq.”

But Mr. Bush, hum­bled by los­ing Repub­li­can con­trol of both the House and the Se­nate, struck a new to­ne­of­bi­par­ti­san­shiponNov.9after amorn­ing­meet­ing­with­hisCabi­net. Democrat­shaveop­posed­many­ofhis “It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to put the pro­pos­als in the past, and be­cause elec­tions be­hind us and work tothey­holdgavelsin­both­cham­ber­sof gether on the great is­sues fac­ing Congress,they­will­beinthe­p­o­si­tion Amer­ica.[...]TheAmer­i­can­peo­ple to scrub his leg­is­la­tion. ex­pect us to rise above par­ti­san difWith Democrats hold­ing only the fer­ences,and­myad­min­is­tra­tionwill thinnest edge in the Se­nate, that do its part.” cham­ber’s Repub­li­cans can use all

In the end, Mr. Bush, who has man­ner of pro­ce­dural rules to have spent much of his time in of­fice irka ma­jor say in what hap­pens. ing Democrats by go­ing it alone, “With49Repub­li­canse­n­a­tors,we vowed­with­Mrs.Pelosiathisside­that still have the abil­ity to shape and, their­lun­cheon­was“the­be­gin­ningof when­nec­es­sary,to­block­leg­is­la­tion,” a se­ries of meet­ings we’ll have over Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said on thenex­tFox.cou­ple­o­fyears,al­laime­dat solv­ing prob­lems and lead­ing the For her part, Mrs. Pelosi has coun­try.” vowed not to seek Mr. Bush’s im-

The pres­i­dent’s pri­or­i­ties in­clude peach­ment or to tie up the House the pas­sage of spend­ing bills fund­with puni­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the ing gov­ern­ment’s con­tin­ued op­er­aex­ec­u­tive branch, and on Nov. 9 she tion “with strong fis­cal dis­ci­pline re­peated that pledge. and with­out di­min­ish­ing our ca­pac“Democrats are not about get­ting ity to fight the war on ter­ror”; legi­seven. Democrats are about help­ing la­tion retroac­tively au­tho­riz­ing his the Amer­i­can peo­ple to get ahead,” war­rant­less do­mes­tic sur­veil­lance she said. of ter­ror sus­pects; en­ergy leg­is­laAt the Capi­tol Hill rally, Sen. tion; and con­gres­sional ap­proval for Charles E. Schumer of New York, a land­mark civil­ian nu­clear coop­who led Se­nate Democrats’ re-ele­cer­a­tion agree­ment with In­dia and tion team, sounded a sim­i­lar note. for nor­mal­iz­ing trade re­la­tions with “Our joy to­day will van­ish if we Viet­nam. can’t pro­duce for the Amer­i­can peo-

The pres­i­dent hopes to be able to ple,” he said. con­vinceDemocrat­sthattho­seis­sues Still, Democrats fired plenty of “riseabovepar­ti­san­dif­fer­ence.”But warn­ing shots on a variety of is­sues on Nov. 9, in­clud­ing ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tions and the ter­ror­ist-sur­veil­lance bill.

“My mes­sage to the pres­i­dent would be: Send us mod­er­ate ju­di­cial can­di­dates,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illi­nois, the Demo­cratic whip.“Don’tsendu­sex­treme­can­di­dates, be­cause I think the pres­i­dent will run into trou­ble if he does.”

Thet­wo­sidesal­sore­main­di­vided over Iraq.

“ ‘Full speed ahead’? I don’t think so,” Mrs. Pelosi said on CNN, mock­ingVicePres­i­den­tDick­Cheney’sasser­tion­thatthead­min­is­tra­tionwould con­tinue its war strat­egy with­out change.

But Mr. Bush dug in his heels as well, say­ing that he will not con­sider pulling U.S. troops from Iraq be­fore vic­tory is achieved.

“Ifthe­goalis­suc­cess,then­we­can work to­gether. If the goal is get out now re­gard­less, then that’s go­ing to be hard to work to­gether,” he said.

The pres­i­dent did ac­knowl­edge that al­though both sides can move away from their rhetoric, nei­ther party will com­pro­mise their core val­ues.

Mrs. Pelosi is “not go­ing to aban­don her prin­ci­ples and I’m not go­ing to aban­don mine,” he said.

Mary F. Calvert / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Pres­i­dent Bush meets with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, Mary­land Demo­crat, along with Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney in the Oval Of­fice at the White House on Nov. 9.

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