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Jewish World Review May 25, 2001/ 3 Sivan 5761

Wesley Pruden

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No making nice with the Senate assassins -- JOHN MCCAIN has the best advice for George W. and the Republicans: "It´s well past time for the Republicans to grow up."

And so it is, but not in the way that John McCain, the most gleeful senator in town over Jim Jeffords´ sex-change surgery, means it.

If he survives, the president has to forget his "compassionate conservative" gig and get real with Democrats determined to cut his throat.

The president repeated his campaign mantra yesterday in Ohio, the boast about being a uniter not a divider. But he´s in Washington, not Austin. The Democrats he worked with in Texas -- friends and neighbors, after all -- are a breed apart from the Democrats here, who want only to destroy a president they regard as an imposter.

The most partisan of the Democrats sent the first fusillade yesterday. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, a member of the Judiciary Committee, warned the president against choosing his own nominees to the federal courts.

"Judges will have to be moderate," he said. "The president will get some he wants. We will get some we want." This would be reasonable advice from almost anyone else, but Mr. Schumer demonstrated with his harassment of John Ashcroft that he yearns to make a holocaust of as many Christians as he can.

Teddy Kennedy sent a signal, too, that he thinks the Democrats are in position now to demand judgeship candidates who will appeal to the extreme left wing of his party. "I think that is the most important guarantee to the American people that we´re not going to have courts jammed with ideologues [by his definition, conservatives], but men and women who have the intelligence, the integrity, judicial temperament, but most importantly the core commitment to the fundamental values of the Constitution [by his definition, liberals]."

Orrin Hatch, who has made something of a career of being Teddy´s token conservative friend, sounded a forlorn hope for the best. "I really believe that they´ll treat President Bush´s nominees as I treated President Clinton´s. There should be no real argument because I treated them well." (Lots of luck.)

The Democrats know better than the Republicans themselves where Republicans itch, and how to scratch those places. Some of them are already offering to help fashion Republican strategy, suggesting that if George W. abandons his conservative agenda and dresses in drag as a liberal Democrat he could strengthen his appeal to Democratic voters and improve his chances for re-election in ´04.

"What we´re seeing in polls in Michigan and the Midwest is the same sentiment raised by Jeffords," says Michigan pollster Ed Sarpolus. "They still like George Bush, but they´re not too sure that he´s the compassionate conservative."

The little Democratic helpers in the media are already at work, too, to define "bipartisanship" in partisan terms, to sell the president the notion that he must become a synthetic Democrat. The New York Times, which called Richard Shelby of Alabama a cheap opportunist when he switched from Democrat to Republican a decade ago, describes Mr. Jeffords as principled, and should be "sobering" for the president. The Associated Press man at the White House lectures the president in this dispatch: " . . . Bush will either seek more compromises or face something close to gridlock. He came into office knowing he had a fragile hold on Congress and a limited time to achieve his goals . . . . Five months into his presidency, Bush has not convinced swing voters that he is a new blend of Republican who can control the spread of government without weakening its powers to serve people."

The president will no doubt get a lot of advice like this, and if he takes it, he can count on getting a lot of nice words from those who most wish him, and his agenda, ill. Such is the Republican disease to fall for it. George W. is a man of faith (enough to make him unacceptable to liberals), but he must resist the temptation to practice the golden rule with the heathen whose only rule is to "do unto others before they do it unto you."

Turning the other cheek in Washington, as historian and JWR columnist Michael Ledeen points out, is "feel-good silliness." You can´t turn your back on assassins. The Democratic strategy of wearing down 98-year-old Strom Thurmond, trying to induce a heart attack in the final hours of the tax-cut debate, defines who these Democrats are. When Joe Biden, a decent enough man in spite of himself, offered to "pair" with Strom to enable him to go home to bed early, a nag of senators led by Hillary Clinton descended on Tom Daschle, demanding that Mr. Biden go along with their scheme to kill the old man.

Strom is safe for now. But the Republicans better listen to John McCain: It´s grow up or die.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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