Shameful politics

Bilbo Baggins, standing next to Gandalf, lamented his failed attempt to get the warring sides to lay down their arms and focus on progression. The American people of pre-Sept. 11 had much in common with this classic J.R.R. Tolkien character. Like Baggins, they too were exasperated at their failed attempts to reconcile the warring political parties. Democrats and Republicans were less interested in solving issues of importance than they were in besmirching each other’s reputations. However, one thing holds true in both narratives. A common enemy unites. After Sept. 11, politicians worked together to pass legislation to protect our country against future terrorists and to help those in need, from victims’ families to the crippled airline industry.

This month at a town meeting in Ontario, Calf., President George W. Bush said, “The nation is united and there is a resolve and a spirit that is just so fantastic to feel. And I am obviously grateful to be the president of such a strong and vibrant land.”

Heroes made it a fantastic time for the United States, but the fantasy is nearly over. We’re not living in a land of elves and dwarves where things finish happily ever after. We’re living in a land of Republicans and Democrats. And these two groups have already re-formed their lines and have begun blowing proclamations through their confounded war-horns.

At a Republican National Committee meeting Jan. 19, Karl Rove, Bush’s top political adviser, said the Republicans should use the war against terrorism to retain their control of the House and win back the Senate.

“Americans trust the Republicans to do a better job of keeping our communities and our families safe,” Rove said. “We can also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America’s military might and thereby protecting America.”

This is not merely fantastical; it’s ridiculous. Politicians, together, have passed policies that are aimed at recovery and prevention. And what is worse is the perverse overshadowing of the real heroes of the war – firemen, police, military and others.

And the Democrats aren’t any better. At the Democratic National Committee meeting, Terence McAuliffe, Democratic Party chairman, said, “It’s true that the president’s approval ratings are high. That’s to be expected at a time like this. But the president’s current standing in the polls in no way suggests a national embrace of Republican ideas, which we know only divide and weaken the nation.”

Welcome back to reality, where the American people are again subjected to political mudslinging. Politicians who would rather create fantasy than deal responsibly and cooperatively to solve issues should not be given a pass this November.