Election Eve Bid for Civility on the Hill

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As voters go to the polls today, they should hold the two parties

accountable to the words on election eve by former congressional leadersTom Daschle and Dick Armey. Appearing on the News Hour With Jim Lehrer,

Democrat Daschle and Republican Armey were a study in civility. No angryexchanges were heard,there was mutual agreement that Congress is oftenmoved by the more extremes in both parties. Lehrer was masterful indirecting 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 sopartisan that meaningful progress was impossible. I fault Armey more thanDaschle, but they can share blame. Armey, out of office, has accused some

evangelical leaders of bullying and arrogance, even referring to them asthugs. Of course, he didnt make a peep like that when he was majorityleader 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 thestate, often winning many GOP voters. But in the Senate, as minorityleader, 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 asto be ugly), it would be amazing if the new Congress in January moved tothe center. Whether the Congress remains in GOP hands or there is a divided

legislature or the Democrats win both houses, the elected leaders shouldread the words and watch the November 6 PBS broadcast. Can a Congress with a

16 percent approval rating do anything else?