Thursday, November 04, 2004

Red Faced: As you know, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle lost his seat to John Thune. The South Dakota senator couldn't maintain his blue streak in a Red State.

Daschle is a likable guy, but I get the feeling that justice was served with his ouster. The Democratic leader was Bush's biggest roadblock during the past four years, obstructing much of Bush's agenda in the Senate.

That's all fine and good, except that Daschle became two-faced about it when he ran for re-election. During all of Bush's first term, Daschle was pictured almost daily in The Washington Post as Bush's loyal opposition, especially concerning the decision to invade Iraq and about how the war was carried out. Then when Daschle ran for re-election, he would be reported in small newspapers telling his constituents that he supports Bush's foray into Iraq and believes that the war is going quite well.

He could have leveled with the people of South Dakota and said, "Yes, I know you support Bush's agenda. But right now Republicans control all three branches of government. We need a strong voice challenging the president. Only if we have some honest opposition will the government make smarter choices. And we will all be better off for it."

But instead he tried to have it both ways. And I lose respect for him for doing that. I suspect that the people of South Dakota gave up a senator with so much clout as Daschle because they wanted someone who would be honest with them.

Now Democrats are looking for a new minority leader. Among the criteria, some partisans are calling for someone from a Blue State so that person won't be vulnerable like Daschle was.

A Blue-Stater is fine. But there's nothing wrong with someone from a Red State. The new leader would just have to be a bit more moderate as a result. And, who knows, such a person might help the Democratic Party gain some traction they so desperately need in the fly-over country.


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