The Republican Party, McCain, and Palin Need a Timeout

It's time for the ruling party to reap what it has sowed.

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I don't know why Republicans want, so desperately, to remain in power. If ever there was an institution that needed a breather, it's the Republican Party.

And when one considers the awful problems the next president will inherit from George W. Bush, is it so crazy to suggest that now is an opportune moment for the GOP to hand over the reins?

In the last eight years, the Republicans ignored clear warning signs and allowed al Qaeda to strike New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

They blundered into a costly war in Iraq, a mistake that squandered international goodwill, undermined apparent victory in Afghanistan, and benefited rivals like China, Russia, and Iran.

They let the institutions of government deteriorate, from FEMA to the SEC, paving the way for catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina and the current economic meltdown.

Paying only lip service to essential conservative principles, they championed pork barrel spending, engaged in corrupt practices, ran up the national debt, lied about the costs and cause of war, and presided over the continued coarsening of American culture.

And they have done it all with a conscious political strategy to escape responsibility by dividing Americans, region against region and family against family.

If the Republicans had any sense of decency at all they would turn to the refs and say, "Timeout. We need to regroup and rethink."

Really. What philosophy does John McCain propose to govern by? What coherence will Sarah Palin bring to Washington? What vision or solutions or smart way out are Republican candidates offering this year?

The Democrats, at least, know what they want to do. From Barack Obama down through Congress and out to the Democratic governors and state legislatures, they are singing from the same sheet of music.

The Democrats will give working- and middle-class families a tax cut; save Social Security and Medicare and the social safety net; invest in public-works projects and a new alternative energy sector to create jobs and get the economy moving again; return Iraq to its people; rebuild the U.S. Army; and revive American diplomacy—which we used to be pretty good at.

(Yes, my children, you would never know it by watching Fox News, but even Republican heroes like Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, and Dwight Eisenhower and George H. W. Bush, once skillfully practiced diplomacy.)

And, with but a modicum of Republican cooperation, a Democratic administration may even reduce the number of abortions, reform the tax system, end our dependence on foreign oil, and get costly entitlement programs under control.

For the past four decades, we've been punishing the Democratic Party for the Vietnam War and other Sixties sins. Fair enough. In a democracy, it is essential that a ruling party be held accountable for its failures.

This year, we need to apply that lesson to the GOP.