OF PRINCIPALITIES AND POWER - "Putting Partisan Bickering Behind Us"

(01/19/2001)

By Tony Russell

No matter what line I get in, it's always the wrong one. Yesterday at Foodland I jumped in the back of the shortest line, then had to stand there while the cashier and a customer debated the price of a head of cauliflower. I couldn't help but overhear the conversation between the two women in front of me.

"What did you think of Gore's concession speech and Bush's victory speech?" asked the one in the front.

"I thought they were both marvelous," said the one next to me. "Just what the country needed to hear. Once the campaign is over, it's time to work together. I hope the Democrats can put aside their disappointment and act in a bipartisan way."

"Oh, I couldn't agree more," said the first one, as she laid her Pepsi, carton of cigarettes, potato chips, and frozen pizza on the counter. "I think the media and the Republicans are right in urging Democrats to cooperate."

"Remember how the Republicans responded in 1992 when Clinton was first elected?" asked the second. "They couldn't have been more gentlemanly."

"I know," said the lady in front. "It was wonderful the way they rallied around Clinton's efforts to reform the health care system!"

"I remember," said the second lady. "They've always stood behind him. I hope Democrats give Bush as much cooperation as Republicans have given Clinton."

"They'll have to," said the lady in front, unloading candy bars and a six-pack of beer from her cart. "After the affection and respect Republicans have shown Hillary Clinton, Democrats couldn't be uncharitable toward the Bushes. The public just wouldn't stand for it."

"That's for sure," said the second lady. "Why constantly drag up someone's past? If Hillary Clinton had killed another kid in a car accident when she was in high school, the way Bush's wife did, and her family had enough clout that nothing ever came of it, do you think Republicans would keep bringing it up?"

"Of course not," said the one in front. "They'd realize that all of us made mistakes in our youth. When Republicans claimed that Mrs. Clinton supported terrorists like those who bombed the USS Cole, it was all in good humor."

The second lady nodded. "I know. It's like those jokes that Hillary has slept with more women than Bill has. I'm sure that's just been lighthearted fun. And if Clinton had had a drunk driving conviction and lied about it, do you think Republicans would have stooped to personal attacks?"

That stopped the first lady. "Well," she said rather dubiously, "there was all that talk about the time Clinton tried marijuana. I seem to remember hearing people jeering at his saying he didn't inhale."

"But that's dope!" exclaimed the second. "That's a lot more serious than drunk driving."

"I suppose so," said the first lady, laying a package of Twinkies and a frozen chow mein dinner on the counter. "Still, the Republicans did call for all those special prosecutors and did impeach Clinton and did spend millions of dollars and drag out the Whitewater investigation for years and at the end nothing ever came of it."

"They were only doing their public duty," said the second. "There was nothing partisan about it."

"But if Democrats wondered how Bush could come up with a $600,000 investment in the Texas Rangers, and sell it for a $14,000,000 profit?" aked the lady in front, putting a package of pork rinds and a bottle of milk of magnesia on the counter.

"That would be partisan politics," said the second.


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