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Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2002 / 10 Kislev, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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One-party control is an illusion | It sure must make the Republicans feel good to speak of "one-party" control in Washington, but it's far from the truth. As President Bill Clinton found out in 1993-94, anybody without 60 votes in the Senate cannot be said to control anything.

Indeed, the fantasy that there was one-party domination in the two years after the 1992 election curtailed any outreach Clinton might have done to reach Republican votes and led to his dependence on congressional liberals in his own party. This reliance forced him ever further to the left until he complained that, "I've become so liberal that I don't recognize myself any more."

The current 52-seat GOP edge in the Senate (which could grow to 53 should Mary Landrieu lose in Louisiana) merely gives the Republicans the potential to govern, it does not assure them of a workable majority on any major issue. To get there, they need seven or eight cooperative Democrats.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bush should go about forming a de facto third party in the Senate of the upper chamber's moderate Democrats. By working closely with them on legislation and appointments and by affording these moderates a level of power available to no other Democrat, the Republicans can, indeed, fashion a working, filibuster-proof majority.

The recent improvement in GOP fortunes in the South suggest that some of the more enlightened Southern Democrats might see the writing on the wall and work cooperatively with the Republican majority on key issues. It's not hard to imagine negotiating with the likes of Sens. John Breaux (D-La.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and the newly elected Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). Outside of the South, Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and the narrowly reelected Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) might make attractive partners.

Lott should choke back his resentment and reach out to Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) to add to the ranks of his moderate negotiating partners. Even Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), anxious to advance his reputation as a moderate who transcends party to make progress, could be an important part of any bipartisan coalition.

Lott should also end the "gentleman's filibuster" which has prevailed in recent years in the Senate where partisans don't really need to stand on their feet and talk forever to hold the floor and block action.

Lott should wait for an opportunity to present itself in which the Democrats are filibustering a particularly important national initiative (e.g., homeland security or prescription drug Medicare benefit) and actually force the Democrats to conduct a 1950s-style filibuster. Make the Democrats hold the floor 24/7 and show the nation, vividly on C-SPAN, how they are tying up the Senate to advance their agenda. Lott should use quorum calls, cloture votes and round-the-clock sessions to force the Democrats to appear unreasonable in tying up the Senate over partisan wrangling.

In the meantime, President Bush and Lott should reach out to moderate Democrats and make them part of their governing coalition, granting them access to White House favors and leverage in the substantive formulation of legislation. By empowering the moderates, Lott can make Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) the leader of only the majority of the minority, not of the entire Democratic delegation in the Senate.

The true lesson of the 2002 elections is that, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, voters do not want bickering in Washington. They are willing to put aside their historic preference for checks and balances through divided government to get consensus and action on key issues that impact our security. This political reality can become a crucial weapon in the hands of the Republican majority to thwart obstructionism by forming relationships with key senators and by making the true partisans act divisively in public before an impatient national audience watching on television.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris