November 13, 2004


A Second Chance to Unite: Four ways George W. Bush could reach out to Democrats. (Peter Berkowitz, 11/12/2004, Weekly Standard)

First, the president could appoint a distinguished Democrat or two to the federal bench. Whereas Senator Kerry indicated in the debates that indeed he had a litmus test for judges--he would never appoint a judge who doubted the constitutional legitimacy of Roe v. Wade--Bush insisted that he had no test and instead would look for judges who respected and interpreted the Constitution rather than rewrote to accord with their policy predilections. This implies that judging differs from politics. Bush could now demonstrate the strength of that conviction by selecting a few Democrats with impeccable legal credentials--former Clinton Solicitors General Seth Waxman and Walter Dellinger spring to mind--to serve as Appeals Court judges. And when it comes to filling vacancies on the Supreme Court, Bush will no doubt and quite properly select conservatives, but he should do everything in his power to select jurists who, by virtue of their good character and established records, will command the respect of informed legal opinion.

Second, the president could appoint a "liberal hawk"--a Democrat who supported the war in Iraq and who believes that both American interests and ideals are served by promoting democracy abroad--to a high-level position on his national security or foreign policy team. Such an appointment would help to underscore the surprisingly progressive thrust of this conservative president's program to promote the spread of human freedom beyond America's borders.

Third, Bush could bring into his administration a prominent Democrat to help craft policy for the improvement of the nation's public schools. Simultaneously, the president could push for more support for voucher programs. And he could stress that voucher programs and strengthening our failing inner-city public schools are not conflicting policy choices but complementary means of achieving the same end--quality education for all of America's children.

Fourth, the president could establish a regular process of consultation with the Democratic opposition on Capitol Hill. This could be done through regularly scheduled meetings, casual lunches, and formal and informal solicitation of opinions about possible Supreme Court nominees. Such gestures build trust and confidence, promote the free exchange of opinions, and will increase Democrats' sense of responsibility for governing.

Proceeding in these ways will enable Bush to ascend to the moral high ground, to show that his principles have an appeal that transcends his conservatism, and to keep his promise to reach out to the whole nation.

The most important aspect of all this is that it implicates the Democrats in the Administration and suggests that they should be comfortable with Republicans, perhaps even as Republicans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2004 8:30 AM

Just be careful with that liberal hawk. Except for a few bloggers, most of them proved to be in favor of war in theory but not in practice.

Posted by: JAB at November 13, 2004 10:20 AM

There are very definite limits to a 'embrace your enemies, ignore your friends' strategy. Also, letting the Democrats vent like spoiled children being told they can't have a new video game only enhances Bush's standing.

Posted by: Bart at November 13, 2004 10:55 AM

Of course, if Bush does not do some of this or something similar there will be complaints from the other side of the aisle.

Unfortunately, if he does, it is likely that he will be snubbed and, if not, the individual(s) that meet him half way will be clobbered by their (former) associates.

Democrats that work with Bush will be treated in much the same way that Rice and Powell are treated by the Dems.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at November 13, 2004 11:05 AM

The Weekly Standard is proving yet again that it isn't a conservative or a Republican magazine. Bill Kristol talking through gritted teeth on FOX's election coverage shows he's no friend of Bush.

Bill, either be with us or with the enemy. In this case, the Democrats. They could use a smart guy like you. They're pretty deficient in brains right now. You'd fit right in.

Posted by: erp at November 13, 2004 11:11 AM


Not this time. Democrats who might have served in the first term--Jophn Breaux, etc.--could be cowed because they thought Gore was a shou'in nect time in December 2000. Now that they're permanently out of power you can't move up by staying where you are.

Posted by: oj at November 13, 2004 12:40 PM