I've heard an odd conclusion on the news following Tuesday's dramatic elections. Several times NPR has talked about the message of voters to Congress and the President being "to work together" and "get things done." Funny, I've been looking at polls of issues that motivated voters on Tuesday and have yet to find one result indicating that ending gridlock or "bipartisanhip" was a key issue. (See CNN's and Gallup's pre-election polls and CNN's, Greenberg's and the Pew's post election polls.) The stand-out issues again and again are the Iraq war, corruption, and anti-Bush sentiment.
But on ATC yesterday I heard Melissa Block say "both Democrats and President Bush have been saying they got the message. They say they’re ready to work together to get things done for the American people. " Mara Liasson follows this up by talking about how successfully Clinton followed the demise of his party in 1994 by "triangulating and cutting deals with the Republican Congress." Questioning whether Democrats can be effective, she quotes Clinton's onetime chief of staff, "Panetta asks the same question of the Democrats, who he says have gotten used to throwing grenades from their position in the minority." I'm curious what "grenades" these are--the resolution on use of force against Iraq in 2002, the Patriot Act passage, the continued blank check for funding the Iraq War, the confirmation of Rice, Justice Roberts and Alito, and joint saber-rattling on Venezuela and Iran.
And this morning Daniel Schorr brings up this made-up issue of working together; he says, "the first mandate I think they [Democrats] have is that I think the public wants them very much to try to get together [with Bush and Republicans]….they [Bush and Democrats] feel a lot of pressure from around the country to stop all this nonsense and all the politics and get something done for a change."
This talk of bipartisanship and "working together" is especially odd, since turning over the House in dramatic fashion, and the Senate narrowly, suggests that voters want a Congress that will OPPOSE the President, not compromise with his policies. Of course people want to see action on ending the war in Iraq, improving wages, and ending corruption (getting things done)--but the message was clearly one rejecting the policies of Bush and his Republican allies.