Lincoln provides a glimpse behind the scenes into what the Bush administration was really about all along, and how that worked against his chances to win re-election in Rhode Island.
Back in December 2000, after one of the closest elections in our nationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s history, Vice President-elect Dick Cheney was the guest at a weekly lunch meeting of a small group of centrist Republicans. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and I were honored to have the opportunity to visit with him on the eve of a session of Congress in which, because of Republican defeats, the Senate would be evenly divided at 50-50.
As we sat in Senator SpecterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s cozy hideaway office and discussed the coming session, I was startled to hear the vice president dismiss suggestions of compromise and instead emphasize an aggressively partisan agenda that included significant tax cuts, the abandonment of international agreements and a muscular, unilateral foreign policy.
I was incredulous. Instead of a new atmosphere of cooperation and civility which, after all, had been the promise of the Bush-Cheney campaign, we seemed ready to return to the poisonous partisanship that marked the Republican-Congress ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬? Clinton White House years.
Aside from Chafee’s thoughts, I’m guessing that this hardline partisan nonsense is probably a big reason why Jim Jeffords switched to being an independent. At the time, it was a huge “eff you and the partisan elephant you rode in on” to the Bush administration.
Here’s the thing. Bush/Cheney came to the White House after the closest election in American history. I think that’s one fact that we sometimes forget because people are still debating whether Bush actually won or just had a better legal team. And so, after all this, Bush/Cheney decide their response to this obvious call for bi-partisanship is to divide, not unite. Now Chafee has confirmed it in no uncertain terms.
People, political karma is a bitch and Bush deserves any bad mojo he’s getting now. He deserves to be a lame duck President for preaching cooperation and practicing the exact opposite. But most of all, he deserves to be remembered as a C-student President when the times demanded A-student leadership.
I just hope people like Lincoln don’t leave politics because of Bush and Cheney. If Congress were filled with guys like him, I think this country would be a much better place.