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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Farewell to Macacawitz

Blue suits and blue ties were the order of the day when Senate Democrats marked the George Allen's concession in Virginia yesterday. Let's hope that's not the color our mood in two years.

It is no small irony that Jim Webb -- a virtual lifelong Republican turned Democrat over the war in Iraq -- should be the candidate who flips the Senate, and Congress, to a blue hue. And it is rewarding that finally, a decorated military veteran was able to hold his own against the attacks of the Chicken Hawk brigades who brought down the hapless John Kerry and the heroic Max Cleland.

Let's face it -- Sen. Macacawitz was his own worst enemy -- a mouth that operated at light speed without a firm attachment to his brain. It was a campaign first -- self-destructing in full view of a video camera uttering words in direct opposition to his message. Allen only added to his problems by his inept response to learning his mother -- and therefore he -- was Jewish.

But this time, the attack on a person's military service did not work. Webb fought back in a campaign that degenerated into questions about who uttered the n-word and whether Webb's military novels contained pornographic passages.

A Democratic Senate -- one with a razor-thin margin and which still includes Joe Lieberman -- is not a place for seeking revenge. The most significant impact of this switch is the improved potential to prevent a GOP takeover of the Supreme Court by the hard right.

And any Senate where Ted Kennedy is a chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is clearly a better institution.

But Democrats can't become the hypocritical partisan zealots exemplified by outgoing majority leader Bill Frist's spokeswoman, who had the audacity to proclaim (apparently with a straight face):
"Democrats must step forward as partners, not partisans. To do any less is to damage, perhaps irreparably, our ability to act as one government, together, in one of the largest callings of our time."
The next few months will be especially challenging as George Bush continues his two-sided mouth approach to "bipartisanship" -- which to his mind means a lame duck Congress acting on his most divisive proposals like domestic wiretapping and John Bolton as UN ambassador before the Democrats take the gavel.

I think Ronald Reagan said it best: "trust but verify." Democrats are now in charge of the legislative branch in Washington, They should try to reach out and avoid the divisive tactics that has marked the reign of George 43 and his congressional do-nothing zealots.

But they should also recognize that the GOP rhetoric still doesn't match the reality and should be prepared to lead -- to a logical solution in Iraq, to a just and fair distribution of resources and to a climate where fear and smear are not the marching orders of the day.


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