As voters go to the polls today, they should hold the two parties accountable to the words on election eve by former congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Armey.
Appearing on the News Hour With Jim Lehrer, Democrat Daschle and Republican Armey were a study in civility. No angry exchanges were heard,there was mutual agreement that Congress is often moved by the more extremes in both parties. Lehrer was masterful in directing the two in calm words and easy discourse.
(Full disclosure: Lehrer is a longtime friend and I am an unabashed admirer.)
Question: Why weren't these two like this when they were in office? Both were frequently so partisan that meaningful progress was impossible. I fault Armey more than Daschle, but they can share blame.
Armey, out of office, has accused some evangelical leaders of bullying and arrogance, even referring to them as thugs. Of course, he didnt make a peep like that when he was majority leader in the House.
Voters in South Dakota knocked Daschle out of the Senate in a squeaker election in 2004. He was a popular figure in the state, often winning many GOP voters. But in the Senate, as minority leader, he could be a street fighter in tactics while smooth with his words.
I guess it is easy to be statesman-like out of office.
After the blizzard of negative ads on TV and radio (some of them even racist or so misleading as to be ugly), it would be amazing if the new Congress in January moved to the center.
Whether the Congress remains in GOP hands or there is a divided legislature or the Democrats win both houses, the elected leaders should read the words and watch the November 6 PBS broadcast.
Can a Congress with a 16 percent approval rating do anything else?