How To Get Your Hand Bitten

OK, the GOP convention ended and I was pumped to vote Republican.  Sort of.  Many themes of the convention were actually pretty irritating.

One theme was actually a non-theme, and its name was George W. Bush, the great unmentionable at the convention.  I have said before that President Bush has a completely defendable record .  But OK, his approval rating is low so we want to distance ourselves from him for political reasons.  Then why didn't the convention speakers go after the Democrat-run Congress, whose approval rating makes Bush's look like Sarah Palin's?  Who is it we're talking about who has not been putting country first?  Because President Bush is the poster-boy of putting country first.

But the really irritating theme to me was the idea that we need to work together with Democrats more.  As if that has been the problem.  Let us review the last eight years and see how often we did work with the Democrats and how that worked out for us.

Prescription coverage under Medicare.  Here the GOP took the Democrats' words about health care and put them into action.  President Bush reached out to Democrats and even got he cooperation and support of the American Association of Retired Persons.  The result was the greatest expansion of entitlements since LBJ and bringing the day of Medicare insolvency closer.  Yet the Democrats still got away with calling the Republican program too stingy.  In the very next election the AARP went back to endorsing Democrats.  And seniors mostly complained, voting Democrat in about the same numbers as always.  To his credit, Senator McCain decided this was one bipartisan plan he could not support.

No Child Left Behind.  President Bush teamed up with Ted Kennedy on this one.  That is reaching way out to the other side.  And how did that turn out?  It was the greatest expansion of the federal government into K-12 education ever.  Federal spending on education more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, and school choice had nothing to do with it -- Senator Kennedy made sure of that.  Yet the Democratic candidates running in 2008 campaigned to end it.  Teachers' unions and other education lobbies now give even more to Democrats than they used to: in 2000 they contributed 62% to Democrats; in 2006 and 2008 it was 72% and 79%.  If education results are improving, it is hard to prove and even harder to prove that NCLB had anything to do with it.

Campaign Finance Reform.  Here we had Senator McCain (R-AZ) teaming up with Senator Feingold (D-WI).  It was passed in a Republican-majority Congress and signed by President Bush.  Democrats and "reformers" loved it.  How did that work out; is money out of politics?  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama alone have raised and spent over half a billion dollars in this year's presidential race.  The total for all presidential candidates is well over $1 billion, and Congress is about another billion .  Of the 15 top contributing industries, not a single one leans Republican.  And Obama reneged on his pledge to take federal money instead of private, with nary a peep from those "reformers".  Now McCain is hamstrung in his ability to raise campaign cash because of his own CFR.  Not to mention, the free speech clause of our Constitution has been weakened.

AmeriCorps.  This program was created by President Clinton.  Now here is a program with real results, as they self-report:

"Participation in AmeriCorps resulted in statistically significant positive impacts on members' connection to community, knowledge about problems facing their community, and participation in community-base activities."

Imagine that, half a million little Barack Obamas, activists and community organizers, trained by our own government, thus saving George Soros billions.  Both President Bush and Senator McCain supported the expansion of AmeriCorps.  Funny, though, I don't read much in the newspapers giving credit to them for that.

International Aid.  Our government spent 157% more on International Development and Humanitarian Assistance in 2006 than it did in 2000 .  Amazingly, President Bush actually got some kudos for pouring $30 billion taken from US taxpayers into international AIDS efforts.  Bono, the rock star, praised him in public and the news even made USA Today.  That must be why Bush and the US are so loved and admired around the world today.

Ethanol.  Now here is a program everyone loves, Democrats and Republicans alike, from Tom Daschle and Barack Obama to President Bush and, apparently, Senator McCain.  Now we should not complain much about ethanol, since only about $7 billion of taxpayers' money goes into it, or about $1.45 per gallon of ethanol.  Then again, it might actually take more fuel to make a gallon of ethanol than it produces.  And in a world with many still starving, we are literally burning up our food.  But these are the prices we have to pay to keep corn-growing states on our side politically.  You know, states like Illinois, represented by Senators Obama and Durbin.

Iraq War.  Before "rushing into war" in Iraq, after just 12 years of Iraq's continuous violation of its terms of surrender in 1991 and over a dozen UN resolutions, President Bush went to Congress to authorize the use of force there.  The measure passed with 69% of the House and 77% of the Senate .  In the Senate, the measure received 58% of the Democrats' votes, including those of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry and John Edwards.  Yet it is called "Bush's War" to this day.  The Republicans lost both houses of Congress in 2006 in a "referendum on Iraq", as the Democrats somehow twisted their support for invasion to support for immediate withdrawal.

For all these efforts in reaching out, President Bush is called "the most divisive President in modern American history" .  Googling "President Bush" with "divisive" gets 92,000 hits.  With "unilateral" gets 115,000 hits.  And with "cowboy" gets 737,000 hits.

In 2003, Dick Gephardt (D-MO), Minority Leader of the House and presidential candidate at the time, said this: "This is a Republican bill.  Therefore it's a bad bill."

Why do Republicans keep thinking their problem is not cooperating enough with Democrats?  Name one thing Democrats have been willing to support in the last 40 years that did not increase the size, scope and intrusiveness of the federal government.

I will mirror Gephardt's admonition.  If Democrats support it, it can't be good.  Just as Groucho Marx would not be a member of a club that would have him as a member, Republicans should not support legislation that has significant Democratic support.

There's a joke where the husband wants a dog and his wife wants a cat, so they compromise and get a cat.  With Democrats, every "compromise" is a cat.  A bloated budget, bureaucratic, cat.

How often do Democrats reach out to Republicans?  Joe Lieberman did, on just one issue.  The Democrats left him high and dry in his next primary election, and essentially kicked him out of the party.  He is now in the Senate as an Independent.  That's how they reach out.  (At least he knows how to pay them back.)

Here's an example of how they compromise.  In the great debate on abortion, where one side says life starts at conception and the other says not until birth, Barack Obama wants to compromise by making sure even babies born alive after a "botched" abortion get no health care.

So please, Republicans, spare me the bi-partisan, reaching out talk.  We are putting country first when we stick to traditional Republican themes; that's why we have them.

Randall Hoven can be contacted at or  via his web site,