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An open letter to President George W. Bush
By Paul M. Weyrich
Dear President Bush:
First let me congratulate you on the many great things you are doing for America from the prosecution of the war against terrorism to the withdrawal of the United States of America from the ABM treaty to the passage of that excellent tax cut bill that you managed to get through the Congress.
In my view you are one of the finest men to have ever served as president. Your genuine faith is an inspiration to all of us. I want you to succeed. Your father was also a very fine man who I admired. His sense of public service was a remarkable example to all citizens.
But your father had a weakness that proved to be his undoing. I thought you had learned from his mistake but it appears perhaps you have not.
I have been here a long time now. I came when Lyndon Johnson was president, Mike Mansfield was Senate Majority Leader and John McCormack was Speaker of the House. The Democrats had almost two-thirds control of the Congress. A couple of years later, Richard Nixon was elected president. The Democrats continued to control both houses of Congress, but there were reasonable Democrats back then. Nixon could get votes on important issues that were critical in his time, such as the Alaska pipeline, because there were Democrats in leadership who were willing to put the interests of the country ahead of the interests of their own party.
Today you have a vastly different situation. The Democrats in leadership are not reasonable. Tom Daschle has proved to be an even tougher ideologue than was George Mitchell.
The politics of hubris will not work. You may think the Democrats in leadership will end up operating in the best interests of the country. They will not. They will slit your throat.
Do you have any idea what it will be like for you if the Democrats are in control of the House for the last two years of your Administration? They will use their subpoena power to make your life miserable. They will see to it you accomplish nothing. Then they will turn around and accuse you of being a do-nothing president.
I agree with you that Ted Kennedy is a very able legislator. But to go further and suggest that he is a wonderful human being is dangerous. First there is a lot of evidence that your statement isn't true. What that does is to release the swing voters in the USA from holding their noses and supporting their own party. The average voter would just as soon vote for the Democrats. The only reason they vote for your party is because they think the leaders of the other party are unpatriotic, are morally reprehensible, or don't understand the problems of the average citizen. Once you embrace the leaders of the other party, it is like a large permission slip for these voters to vote as they really would prefer.
Being the thoroughly decent person you are, you tend to think that others think as you do. You would not stick a knife in their back at the critical moment in the political life of the nation. But they will not hesitate to do so to you.
You think, as your father thought, that by getting friendly with these leaders you can get them to behave as you and your associates behave. It will not happen. As ideologues, they value winning over everything else.
They can put their arm around you one day and will shoot you in the back the next. All those loving things you said about Ted Kennedy didn't stop him from calling for delay of your tax cut bill the very next day.
Mr. President, if you continue to practice the politics of personality, you will see your party suffer massive losses this November, despite your personal popularity. That would be tragic, not because your party can always be counted on to do the right thing, but because the other party will absolutely block your program, much of which I am convinced is in the best interests of the average US citizen. Forget energy independence. Forget missile defense. Forget further tax cuts. Forget more reasonable regulations. Forget protection for the unborn. Everything you stand for will be blocked.
I beg of you, in the interest of progress on a reasonable agenda, re-think what you are doing. If you must praise leaders who are your ideological enemies, do it in private.
I know you would rather not hear this. If you follow my advice, which is not partisan but made in the best interest of the average voter, you will thank me after November. If you don't, I am very afraid I will be able to say "I told you so." I don't want to have to say that.
God bless you and know our best wishes and prayers are always with you.
Paul M. Weyrich
Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation.
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