What Next?

WHAT NEXT?….What if Democrats win control of Congress next week? What then? We asked a bunch of pundit types to give us their take for our December issue, and one of them was David Gergen. His suggestion was that George Bush should accept defeat with humility and then reach across the aisle to ask for Democratic help in creating a new strategy for the Iraq war. He envisions Bush giving this speech:

?It is clear now that we cannot just stay on the same course, and I believe it would be equally fatal to leave immediately. So, I would ask that both of those options be off the table. Let us instead, together, come up with a new plan that has a chance of success; let us also put in place a new team to carry out that plan?a team that will enjoy the respect and confidence of people on both sides of the aisle.?

He goes on to say that if “Bush were to be man enough to ask the Democrats to join him,” Dems should take him up on it even if it might hurt them in the short term. In the long run, it would demonstrate their governing bona fides and increase their political capital.

I guess I’m not going to lose any sleep pondering this, since the chances of Bush delivering Gergen’s speech seems somewhere near the south end of the range between “No” and “Hell no.” Bush’s petulant fury with his antagonists and his seething contempt for Democrats has become so palpable in the past few years that he practically seems like he’s going to burst out of skin when he gives a speech these days. There’s simply no way he could bring himself either to utter Gergen’s words or to genuinely cooperate with a party he loathes even if he did.

Which is actually a pity for him, because Gergen is probably right. If Bush actually did deliver some conciliatory words ? through clenched teeth or not ? and then offered Democrats a genuine, substantive role in war strategy, it would be really hard for them to turn it down without looking petty. And once they were inside the tent, it would become much harder for them to criticize the war effort. Politically, Gergen is offering some pretty shrewd advice.

But that’s only one man’s take. If you want to read a few other attempts to gaze into the tea leaves, click here. We’ve got short essays by Tom Daschle, Mark Schmitt, John Nichols, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, Ed Kilgore, and Daniel Levy.

And if the Republicans hold on? That isn’t looking very likely right now, but we have that covered too. Just flip the magazine upside down and we have some essays about what happens if the GOP wins. Click here to read predictions from Dick Armey, Ed Kilgore, David Greenberg, and Mark Schmitt. Enjoy!

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