Monday, November 27, 2006

No Conciliation Likely From GOP

The GOP is debating among itself how to play their cards as the minority when the 110th Congress convenes in early January.

Mr. Norquist has argued that Mr. Bush should forget about striking any such deals, and should instead work to defeat the Democrats in 2008 and usher in a new Republican Congress that will finish what the president has tried to start.

Throughout the campaign year, Mr. Rove argued that Republican losses this year would register as only a blip in what he maintained was a continued conservative march toward a sustained Republican governing majority.

Republicans close to the White House said Mr. Rove was already arguing that Mr. Bush should move to bolster his support with conservatives, who make up his base and will compose a greater proportion of the Republican Congressional caucus after an election in which many moderate Republicans lost their seats, some to conservative Democrats.

And the talk among both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill is about the potential for Mr. Bush to build a coalition that includes those new, conservative Democrats, though one Democratic leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to break from a public face of conciliation, said, "Crossing party lines has been antithetical to anything he's done so far."

The White House will certainly dig in hard when it comes to Congressional efforts to investigate Mr. Bush's national security programs. Vice President Dick Cheney has vowed to rebuild executive power lost since Watergate and is unlikely to drop that effort -- in the form of greater Congressional consultation on secret national security issues -- because of one lost election.

If anything, Democrats have taken Mr. Bush's first moves since this month's election as more provocative than conciliatory. He plans to use the lame-duck Republican Congress to push domestic wiretapping legislation that Democrats overwhelmingly oppose; he is pushing for the confirmation of his ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, whose continued service most Democrats, not to mention some Republicans, oppose; and he has resubmitted the names of several conservative justices for the federal bench whom Democrats have rejected once already.

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