Democrats—one step at a time, please

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This is a surprise for Republican readers: Read on, and you'll see criticism of Democrats this time. Yes, it is unusual.

According to the Washington Post, Democratic leaders in the House are already planning for a takeover of the chamber next year, and they have an agenda in place. It includes raising the minimum wage, rolling back some of the Medicare law on prescriptions, taking a fresh look at Homeland Security measures, and zeroing in on controlling the runaway deficit.

Another plan in the works is a series of investigations of the Bush administration, although Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi denies she is contemplating impeachment charges against the president.

Wait a minute.

Election Day is six months away, a lifetime in the tos and fros of politics. While Republicans look especially vulnerable in early May, the situation could change in Iraq, with the economy, and even with the skyrocketing cost of gasoline.

Democrats would be well advised to agree and then concentrate first on their election message and put their ambitions on hold for a while. There is doubtless squirming on the Democratic side of the aisle to settle scores with the GOP since the Newt Gingrich-inspired takeover of the House 12 years ago.

Democrats need to remember that Republicans before 1994 were in the minority for four decades. In those years of frustration for the GOP, some senior Democrats ran roughshod over the opposition.

I particularly remember Rep. Jack Brooks of Texas, a take-no-prisoners Democrat who savored his highly partisan role of ignoring Republicans on his Judiciary Committee. Brooks was one of many committee chairs who treated the minority with benign neglect and even hostility at times.

Pelosi, asked by the Post writer about the impeachment allegation by Republicans, added this line about the investigations: "You never know where it leads to." That's a tricky statement to say the least.

There is no doubt the Bush team has played loose with the facts in taking the nation to war and its bloody aftermath. But even with Bush's sagging numbers in the polls, impeachment is hardly a winning matter of debate right now.

The nation has gone through impeachment twice in recent history–Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Even as angry as some are with Bush, and it is understandable, talk of impeachment possibilities is a loser right now.

Because of gerrymandering by both parties in the House, the number of safe seats has ballooned in the past few decades. It will take a tide of resentment by voters to boot out enough Republicans for them to lose the majority. Democratic chances of taking over the Senate are even more iffy.